Despite overwhelming support, the VA still does not recommend cannabis use for vets. Photo credit: Bumble Dee.
There are more than 19 million veterans in America, according to PEW Research.
Nearly 13% of these veterans experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a 2017 study in the PLoS One journal.
However, some find that a third of all veterans will experience PTSD, reports Veterans of Forgein Wars (VFW).
One recent study, which appears in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research journal, showed that cannabis helped reduce the rates of PTSD in veterans. For example, the study found that “participants who used cannabis were 2.57 times more likely to no longer meet DSM-5 criteria for PTSD […] compared to participants who did not use cannabis.”
While 83% of U.S. veterans support medical cannabis, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities throughout America do not provide medical cannabis services, according to the Veterans Cannabis Project. Because it remains a schedule I drug, the VA doctors and health professionals cannot prescribe or recommend it.
However, many veteran-owned cannabis companies and organizations are making it a mission to fill this gap.
Below are 13 veteran-owned cannabis brands or organizations whose goals are to provide therapeutic alternatives to vets, and beyond.
Ananda Farms is a hemp farm located in Upstate New York in Fulton, New York. Founded by veteran Sarah Stenuf in 2018, the company also produces a line of high-quality CBD products. Ten percent of the proceeds from the company go directly to Stenuf’s nonprofit organization, Veterans Ananda. Specifically, Veterans Ananda’s mission is “to provide free, world class, medical, psychological, and spiritual care to U.S. Armed Service Members, veterans, first responders, and their families,” according to the organization’s website.
Furthermore, veterans and first responders get a 22% discount on all Ananda Farms’ products.
Additionally, this year, Ananda Farms farm hosted the state’s first u-pick experience, allowing visitors to pick their own hemp.
Western Front LLC is the first recreational cannabis dispensary located in Chelsea, Massachusetts, reports the Boston Globe. It was co-founded by Dennis Benzan and Marvin Gilmore, “WWII hero, French Legion of Honor recipient; founder of the first and largest Black bank in America, One United; civil rights activist … and now the owner of one of the first economic empowerment dispensaries in Massachusetts, Western Front in Chelsea,” the company told Emerald.
The dispensary serves the greater Boston and North Shore areas, according to their website. They offer products ranging from pre-rolls, to edibles, concentrates, flower and more. The dispensary also hosts an art gallery, which showcases different mediums from 3D art to paintings and sculptures.
Mary Palmer is an award-winning CBD company based in Quincy, Massachusetts. The woman and veteran-owned business was founded by Steven “Dj Stenny” Stentiford and Lynne Spinney. Stentiford and Spinney’s creations have garnered a variety of accolades “at competitions like The High Times Cannabis Cup, The Harvest Cup, Terptown Throwdown, NECANN Competition, The Pheno Cup and The Commonwealth Cup,” reports Emerald. But their product have also earned rave reviews by customers.
Mary Palmer currently offers a variety of CBD products. For example, those range from dog treats, the CBD gum, topicals, tinctures and even apparel.
Jade’s Botanical Garden is a Black-owned CBD company that’s based in Buffalo, New York. Husband and wife team, Jeanette Alston-Hawkins and Wade Hawkins Sr., are the company’s founders. Their positive experiences with CBD inspired them to launch Jade’s Botanical Garden. For Jeanette, it helped her treat chronic migraines; for Wade, it reduced the knee pain caused by a career in the military.
The company offers a line of premium lab-tested CBD products, including lotions, tincture and bath bombs. In addition to manufacturing their goods in the U.S., all their products are THC-free. Right now, Jade’s Botnancial is currently hosting a holiday sale with up to 25% off, and free shipping on orders 75$ and more.
Veterans Walk and Talk (VWAT) is a “community of veterans who advocate for the outdoors, psychedelic therapy and cannabis,” according to the organization’s website. Colin Wells, who used cannabis and hiking as successful treatments for addiction, founded VWAT in 2016.
Based in Southern California, with chapters throughout California, VWAT hosts weekly hiking excursions, community outreach events and also, beach cleanups.
Helmand Valley Growing Company (HVGC) was founded by three special ops veterans.
The veteran-founded and focused brand aims to help end the opioid and suicide epidemic among the nation’s veterans. According to HVCG’s website, “since its inception, HVGC […] has developed a veteran based protocol to effectively prove the benefits of medical cannabis. HVGC is supported and essentially ran by three Marine Raiders that served following 9-11 [Andy Miears, Bryan Buckley, and Matt Curran].” The site adds, “As a service disabled veteran owned business, HVGC is intimately aware of the daily challenges that our fellow veteran brothers and sisters face as a result of their time spent on the battlefield.”
Simply Pure is one of the highest-rated dispensaries in Denver. Specifically, they specialize in edibles, and growing small batch cannabis with pure ingredients and certified organic products on the market. However, they carry a variety of products ranging from vape and concentrates, to chocolate and flower.
Both military veterans, Wanda James and Scott Durrah, founded the store in 2010 and make veteran patients and customers their top priority, according to their website.
Green Box “is a local and family-owned cannabis subscription and on-demand delivery service. [Co]-founded in 2016 by Adrian Wayman, a Black and gay entrepreneur, and his father in law, Bob Wayman, a Vietnam war veteran,” writes Green Box’s website.
The Portland, Oregon-based business curates sustainable items for their customers and also delivers it to their doors. Depending on the subscription, boxes include three-five personalized goodies.
Good Earth Hemp Company is a Native and veteran owned brand based in South Dakota. Specifically, the company is located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation. Good Earth Hemp offers a variety of CBD products, running from oils for pets and humans, to salves and gels.
Veteran Pharms is a licensed family and veteran-owned cannabis company located in Hayfork, California and founded in 2015. All the farm’s plants are grown without pesticides or fungicides.
“Veteran Pharms is founded on the basic principles of life. We strive to spread knowledge and awareness to those living with PTSD and other related issues. Whether recreational use or medicinal, we plan to spread the truth about this amazing plant,” according to the company’s website.
The Veterans Cannabis Group is “an advocacy group of Veterans for Veterans who use medical cannabis,” the website explains. “We provide education, safe access, information on VA resources and benefits, and an opportunity for veterans to work with other veterans within the cannabis industry. The VCG also helps strengthen relationships between veteran communities and their local cannabis businesses and governments.”
Veterans Aaron Augustis and Jeremy Freitas are the group’s founders.
GreenSmith Farms is a veteran-owned hemp farm in West Virginia. Marine vets, Calvin Riggleman and Nick Andrews, founded the farm in 2018. According to the company’s website, “we grow our own premium hemp flower on our West Virginia farm and we make all of our products exclusively from that hemp flower.”
Additionally, the site explains, “all of our products are blended and packaged in our state-of-the art commercial kitchen at the farm. Our raw extracts and finished products are minimally processed, and tested for purity and potency by ISO-certified independent laboratory.”
The company’s CBD products include gummies, tinctures and also topicals like cooling muscle balms.
The Weed for Warrior Project is a “social justice lifestyle brand supporting holistic rehabilitation for veterans through community-based projects, proactive care advocacy, cannabis education and compassion. WFWP urges change for the empowerment of the people,” according to the organization.
Kevin Richarson founded the project in 2014. With origins in California, Weed for Warriors also has chapters throughout the nation. Members often host events and participate in rallies and gatherings. Additionally, the organization’s mission is to curb suicide rates among the nation’s veterans, and help veterans heal with cannabis.