Gary Hess is the founder and Executive Director of the Veterans Alliance for Holistic Alternatives (VAHA), CEO of Teleleaf, and Partner of Dynamic Growth Solutions – organizations he founded to help destigmatize and provide access to medical cannabis.
Gary served in the Marine Corps for 11 years, both enlisted and as an Infantry Officer. After serving during the heaviest levels of fighting in Irag, Gary experienced the challenges of living with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, and pharmaceutical dependency first-hand. He used cannabis not only to manage his conditions safely on his path to recovery, but also to catalyze and expedite Post-Traumatic Growth. He is now an advocate and activist for the use of medical cannabis in post-traumatic recovery – both for veterans and trauma survivors.
Within VAHA, Gary works with patients, medical professional, and lawmakers, leading qualitative research and advocacy efforts to provide evidence-based education on the benefits of medical cannabis and reducing the obstacles that hinder access. He has teamed with Dr. Sue Sisley and the Scottsdale Research Institute in their efforts against the DEA to successfully remove barriers that have hindered and prohibited federal research initiatives for decades. Gary continues to spearhead policy reform initiatives and has successfully testified in Congress for the legalization of cannabis for medical use in Louisiana and North Carolina. Gary became the first patient and veteran in Louisiana to receive a recommendation for medical marijuana.
Gary is also the CEO and Founder of Teleleaf, a telemedicine platform that provides affordable and convenient access to cannabis . Through his platform, Gary has connected thousands of patients with licensed physicians in 22 different states. He is also a Partner in Dynamic Growth Solutions, which provides construction and turn-key solutions for indoor cannabis cultivation via energy-efficient, high-yield growth containers. DGS was created to protect the license-holder during the most vulnerable time of growth to ensure patients in need have access to quality products in a timely manner.
In his professional career after service, Gary found early success investing in real estate, which eventually led to his award-winning Antique Lumber & Millwork Co., Southern Arch. Gary has also served as the Chief Operating Officer for an oil and gas firm as well as a nationally recognized federal contracting firm, where his leadership proved instrumental and led to explosive growth for both.
Gary holds a Bachelor of Science in Community Sociology from Wartburg College, where he competed in 4 yrs of NCAA baseball. He is pursuing a PhD in Cognitive Behavior and Brain Sciences, studying the neurological and physiological effects of trauma and the effectiveness of cannabis and other holistic alternatives in facilitating recovery.