Story by Michael Hagar
After the first day of visiting vendors at the Imperious Expo + Directory, sitting in on informative panels, and gathering media content, we ventured down to the Wing Man Brewery to attend the Weedmaps afterparty. Here we sparked up a conversation with Alex, a friendly, well-spoken veteran and representative of “Grow for Vets.” We ended up talking about how Congress recently gutted federal legislation that would have made it possible for Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states that have legalized cannabis. Having enjoyed the discussion with our new friend, we made note to stop by their booth the next day.
Grow for Vets is a 501(c)(19) nonprofit organization with no political affiliation. Their mission is to supply veterans with cannabis to treat the myriad of medical issues that may arise while they serve our country. Roger Martin, a veteran of the US Army, founded Grow for Vets in Colorado in January 2014—roughly four years after cannabis helped him overcome dependencies on potentially deadly pharmaceuticals such as oxycodone and Ambien. Having personally experienced the benefits of using cannabis medicinally, Martin has since spent much of his retirement providing free cannabis to veterans, so they can treat ailments such as chronic pain and PTSD. More than 50 veterans needlessly die on a daily basis due to prescription drug overdoses and suicide. Grow for Vets is trying to change that.
On day two of the Imperious Expo + Directory we were lucky enough to interview Crystal Newton, the president of Grow for Vets. She informed us that this was the first time Grow for Vets had attended an expo in Washington state because it’s illegal for them to distribute cannabis here. In fact, she was brought on as president due to her background in the legal world, in hopes of overturning this limitation. Newton went on to explain how the organization typically functions, “... Grow for Vets is great; it’s simple. In every other state they can obtain donations of cannabis and redistribute them to veterans. In Washington it would be illegal for us to do that, so you’re not allowed to share. I can’t even pass you a joint. It’s a felony drug trafficking charge. We said: put your life on the line, fight for us, come back [and] we’ll take care of you… pumping them full of pharmaceuticals is not working. People are getting more violent; they’re getting broken. You shouldn’t come back from this horrible war to a broken family and to a broken heart.”
In California, Oregon, Arizona, Michigan, Maine, and every other state with medical marijuana programs Grow for Vets chapters can operate normally, but in Washington, the WSLCB says no sharing.
Despite setbacks in Washington, Grow for Vets has been incredibly successful in providing cannabis to veterans in need. Thus far over 30,371 veterans have been reached by chapters across the country and the cash value of their cannabis donations, as of today, has reached a whopping $765,850. The organization hopes to eventually save over a million veterans with cannabis and their efforts have not gone unnoticed. They have been featured in Time, AP, and High Times and have garnered a number of sponsors in the cannabis industry, such as MassRoots, KLR Farms, Mary’s Medicinals, and many more.
For more information on Grow for Vets, such as how to join a local chapter, make a cash or cannabis donation and how to attend future events with Grow for Vets members, visit their website at www.growforvets.org.