Podcast

Why Veterans Seek Cannabis and How You Can Help.

In this episode of “Grandma and Her Gummies,” host Steve introduces Eric Goepel, a veteran and founder of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition, who is dedicated to ending federal cannabis prohibition. Steve and Eric discuss how cannabis can help veterans with PTSD, chronic pain, and other health issues, and how the Veterans Cannabis Coalition is working to change federal legislation and to provide access to safe and effective cannabis products for veterans. Listeners are also encouraged to contact Steve if they have a veteran’s cannabis story to share.

Support Veteran Health with Cannabis

The veteran population in the United States is a significant and diverse group of individuals. With approximately 18 million living veterans across all generations, the population encompasses every orientation, gender, racial and ethnic demographic. However, most veterans are older, white, and male, with 75% of veterans over the age of 50 and half over the age of 65. This aging population faces unique health challenges, including higher rates of preventable causes of death, such as cancer, heart disease, suicide, and overdose.

Eric Goepel, founder of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition and a veteran himself, is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of this population. Goepel’s experience in the US Army First Special Forces Group, the US Senate and House of Representatives, and organizations such as the Center for American Progress and the American Legion has led him to advocate for ending federal cannabis prohibition and promoting safe and effective cannabis use for veterans.

The mission of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition is to support veteran health by providing education and resources on cannabis products and innovation. Cannabis has been shown to ease pain, inflammation, anxious feelings, and improve sleep, all of which are common issues for veterans. However, the use of cannabis for medical purposes is still illegal under federal law, which makes it a dangerous situation for veterans to access and use cannabis safely and legally.

Imagine living in constant agonizing pain. How long do you think you could last like that before you do something drastic, whether it’s taking your own life or going into the illicit market and try to find opioids to ease your pain?
Eric Goepel, founder of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition

Personal Stories Can Influence Legislation

Goepel shared a story about how personal experience influenced Senator Orrin Hatch, a conservative politician who became an advocate for cannabis research after hearing a personal story about its effectiveness in treating cancer. This story reinforces the power of personal stories in influencing legislation. When politicians and policymakers hear firsthand accounts of how medical cannabis has improved the lives of their constituents or someone close to them, they are more likely to support policies that expand access to cannabis. Aren’t we all the same?

This is particularly important for veterans, who often struggle with chronic pain, PTSD, and other conditions that can be effectively treated with medical cannabis. The Veterans Cannabis Coalition has been instrumental in advocating for policies that support veterans’ access to medical cannabis, and their efforts have helped to change the conversation around cannabis in Washington, D.C. When people share their stories about how cannabis has helped them or their loved ones, it humanizes the issue and makes it more relatable to policymakers and the public. Education and advocacy are what we support at Grandma and Her Gummies, and we have sources listed below to help you to support us and the veteran community, too.

At key points in this episode, you will learn about:

  • [02:10] Eric and his mission to help veterans.
  • [03:25] Veteran health and death rates, including suicide.
  • [06:26] Why it is harder now to get opioids and why that’s a problem.
  • [09:41] The VA’s weak approach to cannabis research. No more excuses.
  • [12:36] California’s unique law for free cannabis and peer support for veterans.
  • [24:08] How anyone (you) can influence politicians and necessary change.

Resources:

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