As more returning vets discover cannabis as a treatment alternative, advocates at Oaksterdam University are giving them the tools they need to engage in political activism and help others.
Casey Robinson of Santa Cruz, Calif. served in the Marine Corps from March 2001 to March 2006, completing three tours in Iraq. He was injured in 2003, and again in 2005. After completing his term he was honorably discharged due to his injuries, then referred to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for treatment. That treatment involved a cocktail of different pharmaceutical drugs, which Robinson says made him feel unbearably numb, “like a zombie.”
That zombie effect, or inability to feel anything after using pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to veterans for psychological issues and pain, is commonly reported, as is suicide, which is listed as a possible side effect on most of the drugs commonly prescribed through the VA to treat psychological symptoms in veterans.
Robinson was luckier than many vets, 22 of whom take their own lives every day in the U.S. according to a study released by the VA. He found relief in an alternative form of medicine, which more and more veterans are advocating for the right to consume: cannabis.
While participating in a cycling program through the VA, Robinson learned that many fellow cyclists had chosen to take themselves off of VA medications and use pot to treat their symptoms instead. He followed suit. Two years later he helped to form the local cooperative California Veterans Medicine, which provides medical marijuana at no cost to service-connected injured veterans. Cal Vet Meds’ activities are governed by the state of California and operate in compliance with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Prop. 215) and Senate Bill 420.