FOR ALL: Veterans continue to look for relief


Missouri voters in 2018 decided to legalize medical marijuana and to use revenues from the 4 percent tax to fund healthcare services for military veterans.  One of the greatest ironies of the passing of this much-needed legislation is that the tax revenue generated from the sale of medical marijuana in Missouri will fund health and care for veterans – yet the VA can’t endorse or recommend cannabis as a treatment.

You’ll recall earlier this month, we talked about a webinar that featured the Veterans’ Cannabis Coalition and we learned more about the efforts of their advocacy.  One of the most interesting things we learned in communicating with Eric Goepel, the group’s founder, is that they don’t just fight for cannabis reform for veterans.

Said Goepel, “Although we just scratched the surface, we think there are far stronger arguments made for legalization and other reforms using veterans as a lens into widespread mental and physical health conditions rather making it seem as though veterans are the only people with PTSD or chronic pain who are failed by the healthcare system, whether its VA or private. For example, 20%+ of veterans will experience PTSD as will 10% of ALL women, yet we never hear in national conversations about cannabis and PTSD any mention of the millions of women who have survived physical, emotional, or sexual abuse who may benefit, just as millions of veterans have.”


Goepel continues by mentioning data for ALL potential patients, “Current research supports the potential efficacy of cannabis in dozens of different applications, all of which could have direct positive impacts on overall veteran health. Whether for pain relief, as a sleep aid, or for help in overcoming stress and anxiety, so many veterans find relief in cannabis because it provides an alternative way to manage their conditions far better than a slew of toxic pharmaceuticals.”

Goepel, photo courtesy of VCC

The VCC team has been widely present in spreading their message in our nation’s capital, as well as in other institutions across the country.  They’ve testified to the House Committee multiple times, presented at UCLA, and talk about not only expanding access to cannabis as a medicine to vets, but also to the importance of the cannabis industry in terms of job opportunities and well being.

When testifying before the House, Goepel cited information from a Fortune article from 2019, which stated “Within the cannabis sector, as they do in every other field, veterans bring to the table both hard and soft skills necessary for successful business operations. From technical know-how in disciplines like supply chain logistics and information technology to intangible qualities like leadership and perseverance, veterans offer advantages to any potential employer.”

As we continue to see and hear arguments and opposition within our own industry about license caps, potential fraud, and discussions around politicians and operators, it’s frustrating to hear less about the patients themselves.
Access to medication is critical to card-holding patients in Missouri and education for patients is important for this industry to be successful.  Reform of cannabis laws in our country can lead to profitable businesses, which is good for our economy, but without patients, there is no industry, so the ability to change our laws is a win for everyone involved – especially those who need treatment.