Texas Veterans Discuss Medical Cannabis’ Benefits

Posted on: July 22, 2014

Texas Veterans Discuss Medical Cannabis’ Benefits
VETERANS’ CONFERENCE BRINGS VETERAN COMMUNITY TOGETHER
By: Allison Nash

Texas National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ first Veterans’ Conference held in Austin, Texas on Saturday July 19 at the George Washington Carver Public Library included speakers and attendees from all over the state sharing testimonials of how cannabis has helped themselves and their loved ones after their service.

About 90 people attended the conference, and it began with an introduction from David Bass, Director of Veterans Outreach of Texas NORML and US Army Veteran, whom recognized all of the troops attending for their service and continued dedication to both their country and communities.

Bass introduced the first speaker, Lee Birch, describing him as “one of the most patriotic men he knows”. Birch talked about how cannabis helped him wean himself off of the many pills he was prescribed, and manage the effects of his post war trauma, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and chronic pain.

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High Times Magazine’s Freedom Fighter of the Month for August 2014, Deputy Director of Dallas-Fort Worth’s NORML and US Navy veteran Tristan Tucker, gave the keynote address, discussing a range of issues currently plaguing the veteran community including sexual assault and lack of healthcare.

“Over 86% of sexual assaults in the military go unreported,” said Tucker. “The largest demographic for sexual assault in 2012 were for recruits under the care of a recruiting station, totaling 10% of all reports – a 325% increase from FY 2011.”

Additionally, he told the crowd, “The Department of Veteran Affairs is backlogged with over 1,000,000 veterans waiting for disability ratings to be eligible for healthcare.”

Louie Minor, a National Guard Iraq and Killeen area police veteran, and Democratic Candidate for Congress, Texas District 31, spoke in support of medical marijuana as well as LGBT rights.

“Ideas are not going to happen unless you are involved in the political system,” said Minor.

William Martin, Texas monthly contributing editor and Director of the Drug Policy Program at Rice University’s Baker Institute also spoke at the conference.

“America’s drug problem comes from our drug policies,” said Martin.

Martin’s article, “War Without End”, featured in Texas Monthly’s June 2014 issue contained four veteran’s personal stories and testimonials of how medical cannabis can help with post-war moral and physical injuries.

Editor of 420 Magazine, Vincent Lopez, who is also a director of Patients Alliance for Cannabis Therapy and Director of Patient Outreach spoke to the crowd about how cannabis eases his pain associated with muscular dystrophy.

“The bigger picture is the future generations, not my own life,” said Lopez. “Cannabis doesn’t’ cure my condition, but it will help alleviate my suffering.”

Founder and Executive Director of Waco NORML, and US Air Force veteran Clifford Duvall enthralled the audience with a story of his last deployment in Viet Nam. Cliff received a head injury in the air force that eventually led to the loss of an eye, among other service connected disabilities.

Medical cannabis helped Deuvall off the life-threating prescriptions he was addicted to, and gave him his life back.

“300 pills can be replaced with one seed,” said Deuvall.

Manager of Under the Hood Café in Killeen Texas and army veteran, Malachi Muncy, whom works with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans coming home adapt to the civilian world, urged veterans to come together as a community to demand their benefits and support one another.

Military wife Vicki Smith brought the crowd to tears with her story of her husband Carl, and his struggles with obtaining adequate healthcare within Veterans Affairs.

“I will fight for my husband to get what he needs to get better, and I urge all military wives to help fight for their husbands, since they fought for us,” said Smith.

Jessica Gelay of Drug Policy Alliance travelled from New Mexico to attend the conference and informed the attendees of Doctor Sue Sisley, a member of the department of Psychiatry at Arizona State University who was granted access to research medical cannabis and its effect on PTSD, but was suddenly terminated after.

To sign a petition to reinstate Sisily, go to change.org

Saturday’s lunch was available to all attendees and catered by Loves Bar-B-Q in Austin, and paid for by Texas NORML.

Texas NORML’s veterans’ conference after parties were held at the Flamingo Cantina on Friday and Saturday night, and a dinner followed the conference Saturday at Scholz Garten on San Jacinto Boulevard.

Attendees left eager to locate and contact their representatives with the information provided by Texas NORML, and were educated on how to look and act professional and respectable with tips provided by Public Policy Consultant and cannabis activist Noelle Davis.

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