An under-the-radar cannabis club in Colorado is doling out free marijuana to some of the people who need it most: American military veterans.
The Dab Lounge, a covert members-only club, has joined forces with a veterans’ group to bring medicinal pot to former members of the U.S. Armed Forces as treatment for the many medical conditions that plague them.
It was called the Spring Bake, and the Dab Lounge made it happen together with the Veteran Farmers’ Alliance. Steve Defino, founder of the organization, told local media that cannabis helped him recover from the mental wounds of combat in Iraq. Now, he said, he wants to return the favor and help his fellow service members.
“I’ve seen other organizations operate, and I’m not very happy with the way they do it,” Defino said. “They need to be donating more and doing more to show these guys that they actually care.”
PTSD commonly suffered by veterans
He and his group handed out more than a half pound of marijuana to veterans, along with THC edibles. Though the vets suffer from a wide range of conditions, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is especially common.
Defino said he’s been dealing with the effects of PTSD for a decade. Marijuana, he said, provides the best available relief.
PTSD is common among combat veterans, though it also afflicts many civilians. It’s a disorder triggered by severe trauma, and symptoms include distressing flashbacks, frequent nightmares, social isolation, and an increased startle response. PTSD is often disabling, leaving many veterans unable to work after they return from war zones.
But cannabis has shown great promise in treating the condition. Several states have added PTSD to the list of disorders that may legally be treated with the drug, though its effectiveness has yet to receive widespread recognition.
“I’ve been able to actually go through my memories, recall my memories without getting upset anymore, and I’m starting to live my life again like a normal person,” Defino said. “I’ve talked to guys that are ready to kill themselves. They’re ready to take their own life because they feel like nobody is there for them. So this is a small way to say thank you for what you’ve done.”
A way of saying “thank you”
Veterans got Defino’s pot for free, with no strings attached. Though it’s a one-time event, the free supply will save veterans money and the hassle of obtaining medical marijuana from dispensaries.
Defino paid nearly $1,500 out of his own pocket, but he said the sight of vets leaving their shells is more than worth the cost. He acknowledged it’s not a permanent solution but said it could open the door to continued treatment for some of the soldiers, sailors, Marines, and Air Force pilots who still suffer.
“It’s just a band-aid, but for these guys it’s a start,” Defino said. “It gets them out of isolation and (makes them) able to mingle with civilians and re-integrate into society.”
The medical benefits of marijuana, he said, are obvious. The drug helps with insomnia, hyper-arousal (“jumpiness”), and paranoia, he said.
“The veterans that receive our medicine, they’re able to sleep,” said Jacinto Delgado, another Iraq War veteran with PTSD. “They’re able to be more comfortable, not so hyper-active, hyper-alert. They’re able to let their guard down.”
What do you think? Should veterans with PTSD be allowed to use cannabis in other states? What other diseases should be covered by medical marijuana laws?