Sean Azzariti spent six years in the Marines and was deployed to Iraq twice. Today he’s fighting for the right to use medical marijuana. “When I first got out of the military, in October 2006, I was diagnosed with severe PTSD,” he recalls.
The doctors prescribed heavy prescription drugs, but they didn’t work for him. Instead, Azzariti turned to cannabis. “It saved my life,” he says.
Azzariti isn’t alone. CAnnabis is being used as an alternative to heavy pharmaceutical drugs by thousands of veterans in states where it is legal, notably California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Michigan. But not all states that have medical marijuana programs allow it, including Colorado. It’s why Azzariti was such an advocate for the passing of recreational cannabis laws in Colorado that allowed veterans wanting to access cannabis the ability to do so legally.
And the results, at least anecdotally, are extremely positive. So much so that it prompted former University of Arizona researcher Sue Sisley to organize what would have been one of the largest PTSD/marijuana studies ever. That is, until she was fired for political reasons likely by pressure from a single anti-cannabis state legislator.
Sisley’s study was the hope that vets and other people suffering from PTSD needed that the federal government might wake up to the benefits of medical cannabis. But in absence of that, at least one group is working with vets to get the meds into the right hands.
Suicide and drug overdose deaths are major issues facing the veteran community in this country, and too often vets fall through the cracks without any help or support. Operation Grow4Vets hopes to change that one person at a time by offering free marijuana, pot-infused foods and growing equipment to Colorado veterans.
“If we, as a nation, are truly committed to helping American heroes live healthy and productive lives after they have been wounded or injured protecting our freedom and way of life, it is imperative that we stop killing veterans by forcing them to take dangerous and often deadly prescription drug cocktails,” said Roger Martin, executive director of Operation Grow4Vets. “We are morally obligated to provide them with a safer alternative.”
Using Colorado’s marijuana laws that allow people to give away up to an ounce of cannabis at a time to adults 21 and up, the group says they will begin distributing the herb to any veterans undergoing treatment at a VA facility. Organizers say that private donations and corporate sponsors have made the project possible.
To donate to OperationGrow4Vets, visit their website.