The Marijuana Industry has an image problem. The image of the typical consumer has been that of a layabout bong-lover hypnotized by television and crunchy snack foods. Business owners don’t fare much better, often seen as business barons heartlessly capitalizing on the green rush. Whenever I notice people or organizations that defy these stereotypes at trade shows, I take notice. That’s how I noticed Operation Grow4Vets at the Indo/Expo in Denver last week.
Operation Grow4Vets is an non-profit organization with a mission to help reduce the staggering number of Veterans who die each day from suicide and prescription drug overdose. They provide free medical marijuana to veterans who find it to be helpful and counsel those who want to reduce the number of VA prescribed medications they’re taking.
I spoke to a veteran with the operation at an after party who told me that he would be dead today had he continued down the VA-sponsored prescription death spiral. One drug prevented sleep so he took another, which made him lethargic so he took another, which made him jittery so he took another and so on and so forth. He told me he’s now on no other medicine except marijuana and is living a healthy, productive life.
I cannot say scientifically that marijuana is effective medicine for every case of PTSD and Colorado state-sponsored studies are still in process. But I have noticed first-hand that veteran homelessness and unemployment are an issue in the mile high city and Operation Grow4Vets is doing something about it.
When I sat down with a spokesman for Grow4Vets, he informed me of the other side of the operation which I found very exciting. In addition to providing free medical marijuana to veterans, the operation also trains them how to grow plants indoors. You might call it “Operation Grown By Vets, for Vets” except that isn’t catchy. This training is an employable skill in the marijuana industry and has potential to be applied to indoor agriculture for food. He waxed poetic on the adage of dropping the plow to pick up the sword then dropping the sword to pick up the plow. I enjoyed the holistic idea of providing both medicine and a purpose in life through useful work.
So if you’re a veteran reading right now and in need of help or medicine, contact Operation Grow4Vets at Grow4vets.org. If you’re a marijuana business thinking of your business image, the industry’s image or the greater good in general, ask your accountant about making a tax-deductible donation to charity. Let’s prove that our industry helps the economy and the society at large.