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North Carolina Veterans Unite for Medical Cannabis Debate VAHA-NC to amplify voices, work for passage of SB711

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Cannabis Advocate and US Marine Corps veteran, Gary Hess, announced today that his organization, the Veterans Alliance for Holistic Alternatives (VAHA), has established VAHA-NC, a state-based advocacy arm dedicated to passage of SB 711, the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act (NCCCA).

Hess named several North Carolina veterans to the VAHA-NC Advocate Team today, featuring a cross section of experiences that bring the story of medical cannabis to policy makers in Raleigh. Among the Advocates are:

  • Ashley Cooper, 28, Winston-Salem, Air Force Veteran, Clinical Social Worker
  • Josh Biddix, 43, Shelby, Marine Corps Veteran, Former Police Officer
  • Ron Holmes, 50, Wilmington, Marine Corps Veteran, Small Business Owner
  • Myron Smith, 60, Wilson, Retired Law Enforcement Officer, Narcotics Expert
  • David Hamill, 41, Pollocksville, US Army, Military Police
  • Rob Rens, 37, Wilmington, Marine Corps Veteran, Small Business Owner
  • Matt Mylott, 41, Wilmington, Marine Corps Veteran, Former SWAT Team Member

Brief stories of these first Advocates are attached. Visit WWW.VAHANC.ORG to view a new video for the campaign, as well as bios of the Advocates team.

Hess said the group will tell the story of the veteran patient and of the promise of medical uses of cannabis. He said VAHA-NC will promote the bill through community engagements, public education, and strategic communication about SB711, as it comes under consideration by the North Carolina Legislature.

Hess said, “I’ve lost more Marines to suicide than I lost in combat. In my own personal struggle, I thought that taking my own life was the logical solution to end the struggle. An alarming number of veterans suffer from mental and physical trauma that has led to multiple chronic conditions, including PTSD. Traditional western medicine in its pharmaceutical strategy to treat our conditions has led to the crises we are in. Most veterans who transition are prescribed a ‘combat cocktail’ of painkillers, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers when we really need a holistic approach to healing. Increasingly the patient evidence continues to support the medical efficacy of cannabis as an alternative.”

Matt Mylott from Wilmington said, “As a Marine Corps veteran and former police officer, I speak for many thousands of us who are looking for an alternative to the ‘combat cocktail’ so often prescribed for PTSD and other chronic ailments. It’s time for a better way.”

Ron Holmes, a small business owner and Marine Corps veteran said, “Legal access to cannabis would be a game changer for suffering vets. In 37 other states patients have the medical freedom to pursue cannabis treatment. It is time for North Carolina to join the movement to a more holistic approach to medicine.”

Ashley Cooper of Winston-Salem said, “I moved to North Carolina recently for my career and now I don’t have access to legal medicine. My family and I really want legislators to understand they have the power to change lives.”

Hess called the NCCCA a consensus approach that would balance the concerns of critics while offering patients new hope for effective treatments. He said it would also bring vets and patients out of the shadows.

“The medical efficacy of cannabis cannot be denied, and those who are out of options and desperate to heal are finding ways to get cannabis. Veterans in 37 other states have access to legal, quality-controlled, lab-tested products, many under a doctor’s or pharmacist’s supervision. Veterans in North Carolina should not be forced to become criminals to seek the same treatment,” he said.

“We veterans are part of every community in the state: family, friends, and co-workers. We served our nation and want to come home and integrate back into a functional society and back into our families. Too many of us are still suffering. The Compassionate Care Act will provide relief and allow thousands of veterans and other patients to get back to the dinner table with our families, where we belong.”