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Several United States veterans have formed a coalition called Weed for Warriors with a goal to shed light on and fight for veterans’ right to choose cannabis over prescription pills. Many veterans have come forward to support the use of cannabis to treat symptoms of several conditions commonly suffered by those who have served in the military, including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pain, anxiety, and depression.

Amid those in the crowd at the Southwest Cannabis Expo in downtown Phoenix last week were representatives of the Weed for Warriors Project, including 27 year old Jose Martinez. Martinez, a United States veteran, lost both of his legs and his right arm in an explosion after stepping on an IED while serving in Afghanistan two years ago.

Once back in the United States, Martinez suffered extreme pain from his injuries, and found himself facing a serious addiction to pain pills prescribed to manage the pain. Martinez explained,

“Being on pills I hated the world. My struggle with opiates, I tried to commit suicide every day. I took so many pills I thought I’d never wake up again.”

jose martinezVeteran Jose Martinez, who lost three limbs in Afghanistan, found relief to his pain with medical marijuana. (Shanna Hogan)

Putting an end to those dark days, Martinez found relief with cannabis, and he believes other veterans should have the same opportunity.

“We went and fought for our country. We just want to be free to medicate the way that we choose to.”

Now Martinez, along with Kevin Richardson, another veteran who battles symptoms of PTSD, is working with the Weed for Warriors Project in hopes of getting the use of cannabis legalized for veterans in every state. Richardson told the Phoenix New Times that he became addicted to the pain killers he was overprescribed by VA doctors, and as a result he almost lost his marriage.

Martinez and Richardson met at a cannabis expo in 2014 and have been working to achieve their goal of nationwide cannabis for veterans through the Weed for Warriors Project ever since. The group collects cannabis donations and distributes it to veterans who are not otherwise able to afford it.

While legislation addressing the use of medical cannabis for veterans in the United States has previously been introduced to the federal government, nothing has ever been approved by lawmakers. The Weed for Warriors project plans to make a powerful statement in Washington D.C., aiming to grab the attention of those who have vetoed such legislation in the past, by pouring a larges quantities of pain pills collected from veterans onto the lawn of the White House.

“We want to make a political statement,”

Richardson says.

“It’s going to represent over-medication of our veterans.”

The Weed for Warriors Project is not the first to address to issue of VA physicians overprescribing opiod pain killers to veterans. United States Marine, Mike Whiter, used powerful photographs of military men and woman (like the one below) to express the need for veterans to have alternative treatment options, outside of pharmaceuticals.

mike whiter

As the push for cannabis therapy to treat PTSD continues, the Weed for Warriors Project will be right at the front of the line pushing for change. You can donate to the Weed for Warriors Project through their website by clicking here.

weed for warriors help us

photo credit: Phoenixnewtimes

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