Category Archives: Veterans

Area Panel Advances Clinical Marijuana For Veterans Expenses

Two expenses that may trade federal coverage in regards to the medicinal use of hashish by way of army veterans have been licensed by way of the Area Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday, a transfer that units the degree for a possible flooring vote at the measures by way of the total Area.

The primary invoice, referred to as the Veterans Equivalent Get entry to Act of 2019 (HR 1647), would allow medical doctors at Veterans Management well being care amenities to factor suggestions for state-legal clinical hashish. Below present rules, VA medical doctors don’t seem to be allowed to finish the bureaucracy essential for army veterans to make use of clinical marijuana in states that experience legalized the medicinal use of hashish. Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who offered the invoice and equivalent regulation prior to now, applauded the transfer by way of the committee.

“As of late used to be a huge day for our veterans. Now we have been operating for years to reform this counterproductive coverage that forces veterans outdoor of the VA to obtain authorized clinical hashish remedy for continual ache and PTSD,” Blumenauer mentioned. “That is the fruits of the super paintings of our motion, however we will be able to no longer be completed till this turns into the regulation of the land. We should reform our federal hashish coverage.”

Final yr, Blumenauer integrated the Veterans Equivalent Get entry to Act as an modification to the yearly Area protection appropriations invoice, however then “reluctantly” withdrew the trade from the measure.

“Rapidly the VA has determined, neatly, they might be hanging their medical doctors in danger,” Blumenauer mentioned on the time. “I’m hoping that we’ll be capable of paintings in combination to mend this little quirk to make sure that VA medical doctors can do what medical doctors all over do in states the place clinical hashish is authorized, and be capable of paintings with their sufferers … The VA ought to present their sufferers — our veterans — the similar attention so that you could have those conversations with the medical doctors who know them highest.”

Invoice Authorizes Clinical Marijuana Analysis

The second one invoice licensed by way of the committee, the VA Medicinal Hashish Analysis Act of 2019 (HR 712), would direct the V.A. to habits analysis into using marijuana as a remedy for a variety of clinical prerequisites related to provider within the militia, together with continual ache and PTSD. The measure used to be offered by way of Democratic Rep. Lou Correa. An identical regulation has been licensed by way of the Area Veterans Affairs Committee prior to now however has no longer come to a vote by way of the total Area.

Erik Altieri, the chief director of the Nationwide Group for the Reform of Marijuana Regulations, known as at the Area of Representatives to go the expenses licensed on Thursday.

“Our veterans put their lives at the line to shield our nation, absolutely the least we owe them is to verify they’re sorted once they go back to civilian existence,” Altieri mentioned. “It’s crucial that we approve regulation such because the Veterans Equivalent Get entry to Act in order that the numerous vets affected by post-traumatic pressure and different debilitating problems have get entry to to the protected and efficient possibility of clinical marijuana remedy.”

If the expenses come to Area vote and are handed, they might nonetheless face approval from the Senate and President Donald Trump ahead of changing into regulation. A Area vote has no longer but been scheduled.

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Florida Trainer In Risk of Shedding His Activity As a result of He Makes use of Clinical Marijuana

The board of Marion County Public Colleges in Florida has suspended a Belleview Top Faculty instructor and pupil products and services supervisor over his use of clinical hashish. Mike Hickman, 50, used to be put on unpaid depart after the Superintendent of Colleges, Heidi Maier, really helpful he be fired for checking out sure for cannabinoids in early November 2019. Hickman is a registered hashish affected person underneath Florida’s 2016 clinical hashish regulation. And a health care provider authorized underneath the state’s program to suggest clinical hashish issued Hickman a advice for the remedy of post-traumatic pressure dysfunction, which is an licensed situation.

Now, Hickman, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served throughout Operations Barren region Protect and Barren region Hurricane within the early 1990s, is preventing for his activity again—and his livelihood.

Former Marine and Top Faculty Dean Put on Unpaid Go away for Clinical Hashish Use

When a struggle broke out between scholars at Marion County, Florida’s Belleview Top on November 5, Mike Hickman did what any instructor would do: he attempted to forestall it. Within the procedure, Hickman injured his shoulder, kicking off a sequence of occasions that may result in his suspension and imaginable dismissal from the Marion County Public Faculty machine.

As a part of in quest of a employee’s reimbursement declare for the shoulder damage he incurred at the activity, Hickman needed to see the district’s employee reimbursement physician. Just about each employee’s reimbursement case calls for drug checking out workers concerned. And the result of Hickman’s urine drug check got here again sure for cannabinoids.

The physician reported the drug check effects to the college district, since Marion County Public Colleges has a zero-tolerance alcohol and drug-free office coverage. When Faculty Board superintendent Maier gained the record, she issued the advice to fireplace Hickman.

Hickman appealed the college board’s transfer to fireplace him. And consequently, the board positioned him on unpaid depart, pending the result of the case. However college officers say the enchantment procedure may just take 8 to 10 months to play out. Within the interim, Hickman is out of a task, has no source of revenue and can’t train in Marion Nation colleges.

Florida’s Clinical Hashish Legislation Does Now not Require Employers to Accommodate Sufferers

Underneath Florida regulation, there’s completely not anything unlawful about Hickman’s use of clinical hashish. He’s a fight veteran, and his army provider left him with a recognized case of PTSD. “To relieve the results of PTSD, Hickman used to be prescribed clinical marijuana by means of an authorized doctor in keeping with the regulations of the State of Florida,” wrote Hickman’s legal professional, Mark Herdman, in a letter to the college district.

Moreover, the truth that Hickman examined sure for cannabinoids on a urine drug check does no longer point out that he used to be underneath the affect of THC at paintings. Urine assessments merely point out prior hashish use as much as a number of weeks. Mark Avery, president of the native instructor’s union that’s status up for Hickman, stated that Hickman by no means used clinical hashish in class, handiest at house.

“Hickman’s use of legally prescribed medicine had no impact on his talent to accomplish his activity tasks and tasks,” Herdman wrote within the letter pronouncing Hickman’s enchantment.

Nonetheless, Florida’s clinical hashish regulation does no longer require employers to make any lodging or regulate any office drug insurance policies, even for criminal, registered clinical hashish sufferers.

Statute 381.986 of the regulation puts no restrictions on the type of zero-tolerance drug-free office coverage Marion County Colleges has in position. If truth be told, the regulation if truth be told protects employers as a substitute of sufferers, mentioning that there will also be no “reason for motion in opposition to an employer for wrongful discharge or discrimination.”

Faculty Board Blames Federal Marijuana Prohibition for Suspension of Veteran Trainer

Marion County Faculty District spokesperson Kevin Christian answered to Hickman’s suspension with out pay by means of pointing to the continuing federal prohibition in opposition to hashish. “It places the Faculty District in an excessively jeopardizing place of dropping thousands and thousands of federal greenbacks if we allowed this, duration,” Christian stated.

But there has no longer been a unmarried example of a state company dropping or being denied federal investment for using criminal clinical hashish sufferers. However the possibility of dropping federal investment has been the go-to excuse for varsity districts around the U.S. once they deny scholars and team of workers get right of entry to to criminal clinical hashish or sanction workers for off-the-clock clinical hashish use.

Employers in some states, on the other hand, are starting to trade office drug insurance policies within the wake of legalized clinical or leisure hashish, equivalent to finishing office drug checking out.

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Surviving and Thriving with Cannabis: Annie King Garat

You might say that Annie King Garat was born into the military. 

“My great uncle was a Marine,” she began. “My mother is Bavarian, her grandfather served in the Austrian Army. My father was from West Virginia and had very little options other than mining. Going into the military is common in that part of the country. I have four brothers, two were in the military – my second oldest brother was in the German military, another was a Marine – he’s why I joined the Marine Corp.”

Garat was born in 1979 at Fort Riley in Kansas, but lived around the world as the child of a soldier. She became a Marine in 1998, giving up a college scholarship and a career in basketball.

“I joined to get away from my family and the situation I was in,” she shared. “I had already been raped twice before I was a teenager.”

The first time she was raped at 11 years-old, the family was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany.

“A group of teen boys held me down while one of them raped me. I played soccer with one of them,” she said. “I already felt like I was nobody, due to the constant traveling with the military, and didn’t feel it was worth it to file charges. I was told nothing would be done anyway. There’s no justice system, there’s only a legal system.”

The second time, she alleges, she was raped was by her former stepfather.

“David Eugene Dennis raped me,” she claimed. “I can say his name now, for years I couldn’t. He started grooming me when I was six with inappropriate touching, then raped me when I was 12. We reported it, but nothing was done. After my mom divorced him, he was in another relationship and raped that woman’s adolescent daughter – then, he went to prison for about 10 years.”

Courtesy of Annie King Garat

Boat Rocker

While serving in the Marines during her Alpha-school, or trade school, in Pensacola, Florida, Garat said she was sexually assaulted by a non-commissioned officer, off-base at a hotel room party.

“He was a Sergeant, I was a Private First Class – he was also in training,” she explained. “He followed me into the bathroom and assaulted me. I reported it, he was Court Marshalled and spent some time in the Brig – maybe a year or less, for adding to my lifetime of PTSD. I never even knew his first name – we only go by last names in the corp.”

Two years later, she was sexually battered along with some other women by a Command Sergeant Major, while on active duty in Okinawa. 

“I didn’t press charges, personally – it was up to the commanding officer after we reported it to him,” she explained. “They made him go away, it was a career ender – he was relieved of duty. Again, I didn’t really know what happened to him – we aren’t allowed to report or know the outcomes in the military. Ours is not to wonder why, ours is but to do or die.”

According to an article in the Daily Beast (January 2019), via a poll, two-thirds of women in the U.S. military stated they had been sexually harassed or assaulted while serving. By comparison, a study commissioned in 2015 by the Defense Department reported that a mere 27 percent of women had had endured abuse. 

The reason stated for the discrepancy is the fact that many women simply do not tell their commanding officers for a number of reasons, including shame, intimidation, or fear of not being promoted – eerily similar reasoning to civilian sexual assaults in the workplace.

“I could have dropped out, but I stayed in, and went on to California for more training,” she said. “I eventually became what they call a ‘chaser,’ we chase our own. We handcuff our own and take them to the brig. I became a boat rocker – I rocked the boat.”

Cannabis: Both Illicit and Common

In Bavaria she remembers gathering magic mushrooms in the forest. But, the first time she tried cannabis her family was living in Colorado and visiting family in Tennessee.

My older brother and a cousin passed me a joint. We were hanging out in the garage. I had no hesitation, it was lovely and funny. I remember giggling and feeling joyful,” she remembered.

A woman she was close to – an adopted aunt, came out and scolded them, but Garat said it was in jest.

“I was never against cannabis, it was in our culture,” she continued. “My boyfriend and his friend were known as Cheech & Chong, but I was an athlete and didn’t partake regularly – didn’t want to risk my game.”

Garat was married twice and has two children. Both of her husbands were in the military; one was a Marines, the other in the Air Force – both were drinkers with anger issues.

“Drinking is common in the military – it’s all they have that’s legal for self-medicating,” she said. “Then, they add pills and it makes it worse.”

She had always used cannabis, but had to keep it a secret.

“We lived on the base and had to be discreet,” she said. “There were other women, service members and marines who smoked, but everyone hid their use. I was medicating with other moms – we had our little tribe. A lot of them were in the church. Cannabis definitely united everyone.”

Garat received an honorable discharge in 2005 and left the Marines, but carried the trauma of a lifetime of abuse with her. In 2011 she had relocated to Southern California, and was still smoking cannabis, but didn’t yet understand it as remedy. By 2014 she was taking many prescription medications, while drinking alcohol to deal with PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD is a mental health condition, triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. 

Psychiatrist, Sue Sisley, just concluded the first triple-blinded study on cannabis and help for Veterans with PTSD, with results due later this year.

CEO and Founder of Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Eric Goepel, was quoted in an article in Forbes at the conclusion of Sisley’s study as stating, “Current research supports the potential efficacy of cannabis in dozens of different applications, all of which could have direct positive impacts on overall veteran health. Whether for pain relief, as a sleep aid, or for help in overcoming stress and anxiety, so many veterans find relief in cannabis because it provides an alternative way to manage their conditions far better than a slew of toxic pharmaceuticals.”

Soldier’s Suicide Kit

They call the bevy of pharmaceuticals given to soldiers a “Suicide Kit,” with a laundry list of psychotropic medications prescribed in epidemic proportions. Add alcohol, and the kit becomes dangerous.

“I was still drinking alcohol when I left the corp. It helped with the PTSD. I don’t feel I abused alcohol, but the pills took me over the edge and I accidently overdosed,” she shared.

Though Garat said she didn’t drink an unusual amount of alcohol – maybe a half a beer, the combination of prescribed Flexeril, Ambien, Zoloft, and Tylenol with Codeine in her system was too much for her body to handle. 

The father of one of her children used the overdose, as well as her cannabis use, to take one child away. After a long courtroom struggle, her kids are with her and she is a full-fledged cannabis patient in California.

“Ironically, when I was in the military, one of my positions was being a Substance Abuse Control Officer, and a Urinalysis Program Coordinator – the ones who do the pee tests,” she laughed. “I went from being an honorably discharged Marine, to being told I was a criminal – taking my child away – to finally being accepted as a cannabis patient.”

A female psychiatrist advised she get a medical cannabis card. The doctor was from Israel, where cannabis has been legal and understood as medicine for many years.

“Today, everyone from my VA treatment team, to my therapist, to my medical doctor, approve of my cannabis use,” she said. “There’s education available now we just didn’t have before.”

After the overdose she increased her cannabis intake and stopped all the medications.

“I upped my game by ingesting medibles, taking tinctures, vaping and burning flower – you name it,” she laughed. “Cold-turkey, no negative side effects. Actually, the only negative side effects were consequences from my doctor, and having to listen to their bullshit, because they didn’t understand that ingesting and smoking was dealing with the withdrawal symptoms.”

The analgesic effects of cannabis have been said to quell the pain and body discomforts of withdrawal from pain killers and more, giving a smoother transition from pharmaceuticals to plant-based remedies. 

“I’m just lucky I was never able to take the Oxy they gave me. It made me sick,” she surmised. “That probably would have been harder. But, the lack of education on what I was doing was harsh – everyone gave me grief for my cannabis use. I had to be a warrior on many levels – defending myself to my family, the military and doctors.”

Courtesy of Annie King Garat

Quiet No More

Garat is currently being counseled by a female therapist at the Long Beach VA, Women’s Mental Health Center, in Los Angeles County; with a recommendation from the Vet Center (link below). 

“I’m using my experiences to help others now,” she proclaimed. “I’m not going to be quiet about it. As a spiritual being, I’m learning to be open every day. Being open and honest about what I’ve been through helps me and others to heal.”

Garat received her Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Human Services with a focus on the non-profit sector; and is now working toward her Masters degree in Social Work, with a concentration on non-profit management. 

She has become an outspoken former Marine, advocating for cannabis as remedy, and lending comfort and support to the many other women in the military who were raped and abused. 

“You are not alone, and guess what? You won’t be,” she concluded. “I stopped going to organized church because of the judgements, due to my own personal path and experiences.”

Quoting the Bible, Garat waxes poetic, siting Matthew 18:20, “’For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’ God doesn’t judge or demand you be in a crowded room and tithe. You are loved. You have purpose. Let your message help others. It makes the world a kinder place – even with all the pain.”

Following are links to organizations offering support to those abused in service:

Vet’s Center

USN Veteran Denise Nelson and Women Veterans Community Hub

SoCal Veterans Coalition 

Weed For Warriors Project OC

Lupe Gonzalez—Lady Veterans Project

Veterans Walk And Talk

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New Coast Guard Order Bans Active Members From Entering Cannabis Dispensaries

States with legal recreational and/or medical marijuana make up a sizable portion of the U.S. coastline. But the servicewomen and men tasked with safeguarding those coasts won’t be able to take advantage of the change in policy and public attitudes on cannabis. That’s because on July 30, the United States Coast Guard issued an order banning active service members from entering cannabis dispensaries. But that’s only the beginning.

In total, the order amounts to a complete hands-off policy with respect to cannabis. Uniformed members of the Coast Guard also can’t use mobile dispensaries or online delivery services. In fact, they can’t even enter an establishment that grows, processes, manufactures, distributes or otherwise deals with cannabis in any way. Nor can they participate in any activities or events that promote or are connected with cannabis. They can’t even invest in cannabis companies. Furthermore, failure to comply with the new U.S. Coast Guard order comes with serious consequences. Even CBD could be off limits.

U.S. Coast Guard Issues Order Totally Banning Service Members from Cannabis

On Tuesday, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schulz issued an Alcoast Commandant Notice (ACN) prohibiting members of the Coast Guard from entering or in any way supporting marijuana establishments. The order also bans any use or possession of marijuana, even in states where there are legal protections for cannabis consumers. Despite legalization in several states, federal law still prohibits the use, possession and distribution of marijuana, and the U.S. Coast Guard is a branch of the military falling under federal jurisdiction.

In addition to federal law, there’s also the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Under the UCMJ, knowingly being an owner, operator, vendor, or direct investor for a marijuana business is also illegal. As is participation in or close association with commercial enterprises that grow or distribute cannabis. And that includes even so much as assisting or encouraging such enterprises. It’s all a violation of the UCMJ.

There’s only one exception to the Commandant Adm. Schulz order. The prohibition doesn’t cover medical facilities or pharmacies that distribute FDA-approved prescription medications containing THC or cannabidiol (CBD), such as Epidiolex. Other than that, however, the order, which applies immediately and at all times, prohibits any kind of connection to cannabis at all. And violating it carries serious penalties and consequences.

Violating the Coast Guard’s New Order Against Cannabis Carries Serious Consequences

In ACN 079/19, the new punitive Coast Guard order prohibiting any involvement with cannabis, Commandant Adm. Schulz wrote that marijuana use “poses a significant risk to Coast Guard personnel and to unit readiness, and negatively impacts mission execution.”

“I expect Coast Guard personnel to maintain a lifestyle that neither condones the use of illegal substances nor exposes them to accidental intake of illegal drugs,” Schulz wrote in the order.

It may seem like a hard line, but Schulz is simply reaffirming and clarifying what the UCMJ has always said. It also falls in line with drug-free federal workplace policies and executive orders that require all federal employees to refrain from illegal drugs. In Uncle Sam’s view, consuming cannabis makes people unfit for federal employment.

Coast Guard members are being advised to take the order seriously. Any violation of the order or the UCMJ—and even attempted violations or soliciting others to violate it—will result in administrative and disciplinary action. Punishments include a maximum punishment of two years confinement, forfeiting all pay and allowances, reduction to the lowest pay grade in the military (E-1) and a dishonorable discharge or dismissal.

As for seizing drugs at the U.S. coastal borders, however, that’s still a core part of the Coast Guard’s mission. Coast Guard members may not be able to so much as bat an eye at legal cannabis. But they’ll still be snatching up shipments of marijuana and other drugs. According to the annual performance chart for the U.S. Coast Guard, members interdicted more than 15 tons of marijuana in 2017.

What About CBD?

Commandant Adm. Schulz order also addresses the changing legal landscape surrounding CBD. Recent changes to federal law have legalized hemp and substances like cannabidiol, so long as they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. As a result, cannabidiol products are becoming increasingly common and more widely available.

Such CBD products fall into a kind of grey area of what counts as a violation of the Coast Guard’s new punitive order. So service members are being advised to err on the side of caution, since unregulated CBD products may contain more THC than they claim on their labels.

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