Veterans shouldn’t have to come home and fight for their rights after fighting to defend ours.
Learning about yet another veteran suicide at the Phoenix VA underscores the urgent need for policy reform to allow veterans the freedom to access the healing power of cannabis. Under current policy, Veterans who could benefit most from its therapeutic healing power would risk losing their VA medical benefits if caught with cannabis in their system.
A number of doctors, researchers and advocacy groups have made concerted efforts to convince the VA to end its “conventional-treatment-or-no-treatment” policy. Even the most compelling testimony from veterans about ways in which cannabis saves lives has been met with resistance. The Phoenix VA is one of the most staunch opponents and policy makers have gone out of their way to block research that would provide the institution with evidence that cannabis therapy is far safer and more effective than the most commonly prescribed drugs that often do more harm than good.
After sacrificing so much to protect our freedom, it is simply unacceptable that veterans are denied the freedom to choose whatever medicine helps them without sacrificing benefits they’re entitled to receive. After receiving an article written by NORML-AZ director Mikel Weiser sent by SWCC, we felt compelled to do something and called upon a number of industry peers, advocacy groups and volunteers to stage a rally in support of veterans rights on Veterans Day right in Phoenix. In this episode, we interviewed two veterans who have been refused care with dignity from the Phoenix VA, and a PTSD physician who knows why the VA policy needs to change.
Sean Kiernan is President of the veteran advocacy group, Weed for Warriors Project. and served in the Army airborne infantry/pathfinder on the front lines of our failed drug policy from 1989 to 1994. After receiving an honorable discharge, he graduated from UC Berkeley and entered the field of finance working for companies like Ernst & Young, JP Morgan and Caxton Associates in New York. Sean has dealt with the suicide and overdose epidemic first hand and contributed to MAPS research studies on cannabis and PTSD. Sean frequently speaks at events and has appeared on CNN Weeds 3, VICE, and most major networks.
Christopher Lengyel is an Army combat veteran who served in Afghanistan before retiring for medical reasons. Since then, he earned a degree in counseling from Grand Canyon University and founded Help Me PTSD, an advocacy that provides support for trauma survivors and creates innovative ways to fix the failing VA system and the overall mental health care crisis in America. Also a business development professional with a focus in professional counseling, he has also worked in the wholesale industry and is skilled in Negotiation, Budgeting, Operations Management, Customer Service, and Strategic Planning.
Dr. Jordan Tishler is an Emergency Room Physician who is experienced in working with veterans suffering with PTSD. He has also treated countless patients suffering with alcoholism and addiction and seen his fair share of opiate overdose patients. Having never seen a Cannabis overdose, he began to delve into the science of Cannabis therapy and now advocates for it. He is a frequent speaker and author on the medical applications of cannabis. He is also the Treasurer and a Board of Directors member of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) and Regional Director for Society of Cannabis Clinicians.
If not for the generosity of our supporters, we wouldn’t be here! We’d first like to thank our sponsors Hemp Meds and Healthtera. We’d also like to shout out to our producer, Ed Vanderlee at Star Worldwide Networks, Erik Godal, the composer of our theme “Evergreen,” Steve Webb at XRQK Radio Network and Dr. Bryan Doner for the Medical Marijuana Minute and Compassionate Certification Centers for helping us spread the word. We are grateful!