Kevin Schnell: Why I’m getting involved in the medical marijuana industry
In May 2019, I was asked a question that had never crossed my mind. A military veteran and police colleague of mine called me up and asked me a question out of the blue.
The conversation started with the words, “How is your moral compass?” My initial thought was something shady was about to be brought to my attention. As a person who looks at most things as “black and white,” my guard went up, but the conversation that followed got me thinking outside my normal comfort zone.
My name is Kevin “KC” Schnell. I am the President and Co-Owner of KC Protective Services, a Veteran Owned Small Business based out of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The same day as the above-mentioned proposal, I began researching the topic of Protective Services – security – for medical marijuana in Missouri. I come from a background of 25 years of military, police, and protective services experience. For 15 of those years, I arrested people, nearly on a daily basis, for possession of controlled substances. I had always looked at marijuana as “illegal” and if it was illegal, it was bad. Most, if not all people who know me, know I’m a “by the book” kind of guy. I’ve always been a very literal person.
That was before I began researching the benefits of medical marijuana. By June 2019, I was attending meetings and seminars regarding a new industry that was about to begin in Missouri. An amendment had passed, making medical marijuana legal in my state. My research revealed a medical marijuana association called MoCannTrade. Through that research, I learned the industry was being regulated by Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). MoCannTrade was formed, in part, to assist Missouri residents with education on the new industry. I took a chance and attended one of their seminars in St. Louis, approximately 250 miles away.
By the time that I had attended my third MoCannTrade meeting, I was already considering getting involved. I learned quickly how beneficial medical marijuana had become for patients with a number of conditions: Alzheimer’s, cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis – and two other conditions that really got my attention.
One thing I have always struggled with as a police officer was responding to calls pertaining to children. I learned that the oils from marijuana plants were being used to treat children with seizures, significantly reducing their suffering and pain. Some reports revealed kids experiencing hundreds of seizures a day were using these oils, reducing the episodes to only a few a day, in some cases even mitigating them completely.
One other benefit that got my attention was the benefits military veterans were getting when treating their PTSD with the effects of medical marijuana. As a military veteran myself, and fortunate to not have experienced anything traumatic enough to be diagnosed with PTSD, I began thinking about all the friends, better yet, family, that have been suffering from their experiences and the conditions they were exposed to.
I believe it was my third MoCannTrade meeting, located in Kansas City, when I learned the amendment passed in part to benefit military veterans. I was out of the state on an assignment when the amendment was voted on and had not been following Missouri news. That third meeting is when it finally hit me, not only can the effects of medical marijuana benefit military veterans with PTSD, but I can get involved with this industry and bring many security jobs to military veterans so they can remain in the protection industry, stateside, as part of a cohesive group of military veterans and still have a strong sense of purpose while keeping them from having to separate from their families.
I have a large network of military veterans that I knew could benefit from this. Most of them completed their service with their respective branch of the military and then continued on with a similar career path as a government contractor. Although the pay was good, the time away from their families was significant is the time they can never get back. Most of these veterans were missing the best years of their children’s lives. Some veterans struggle with the cross between “providing for their families” and “being there for their families.” It is a strong belief of mine that children are more likely to succeed when both a mother and a father are a significant part of their lives. I believe this to be both while they are young and into their adulthood. Whether gone on deployment for months to years at a time or permanently gone due to loss of life from the hazardous conditions of a government contractor, it will more than likely have adverse effects to a young one’s life.
Another factor that determined my involvement with this industry was how well it was regulated. I did not want to be part of an industry that was without strong rules and regulations. I wanted to be part of something so regulated that only the best and most professional would be allowed to participate. It made me second-guess my involvement in hearing all the horror stories of other states and how the lack of rules and regulations had adverse effects on the residents and their living conditions.
After thoroughly educating myself on the industry set to begin in Missouri, I learned DHSS had done a phenomenal job of regulating the industry. I was quite impressed by it. There will always be someone who will abuse the system. There will more than likely be someone that gets involved in the industry for the wrong reasons. Greed tends to show its ugly face when substantial amounts of money are worked into an equation. No system is truly perfect. But, when something is regulated well and many passionate people get together to work out all the details to any one thing, it is quickly learned how good something can be, even when involving something like a federal schedule 1 narcotic.
The key to moving forward is having an open mind.
Kevin “KC” Schnell is President of KC Protective Services LLC and KC Cann Transport LLC.