Potential Good News for Veterans’ Access Marijuana

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New legislation has been introduced by Republican and Democrat Representatives which would allow the Department of Veterans’s Affairs doctors to recommend marijuana for certain patients. The Veterans Equal Access Act, introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Rep. Earl Blumenaur of California an Oregon respectively, would allow the largest network of physicians nationwide to recommend medical marijuana in the states where medical marijuana programs have been established.

A large portion of American veterans suffers from issues of chronic pain, PTSD, and depression as ongoing issues. Because marijuana is federally classified as a Schedule I drug, veterans and physicians are limited from considering marijuana as part of their treatment together. Veteran’s then have to turn to other solutions to seek medical marijuana outside of the VA programs.

Here is one story, courtesy of Desert Bloom Tucson Dispensary, about a Vietnam Vet who has been living with cancer for over 40 years by caring for himself through diet, exercise, cannabis consumption, and personal motivation.

Sylvester’s Story:

Imagine living with cancer for 40 years.

Imagine painful sores and lungs that ooze constantly from nasty stuff working it’s way out of your body. Imagine waking every two hours at night to cough and clear your lungs, so you don’t drown on your own sputum. Imagine that these illness were inflicted on you by your fellow man. Welcome to the world of people exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals used in war. They call them the ‘seasoned’ vets.

This particular seasoned vet, Sylvester, has lived and contributed to society beyond all expectations and odds. Born a week before Christmas in 1937, he was a unique child. He wouldn’t speak for most of his young childhood. Some said he was mentally disabled and wouldn’t do this and wouldn’t do that, but his family lived a natural existence with fear of nothing but their maker. They grew their own food and herbs, raised their kids to know just from unjust laws. There was much racism and repression for Sylvester’s black family in the 1940s, but this period represented a major shift in thought and in the way people lived their lives.

As a young man, Sylvester was a semi-professional athlete, and he eventually found his way to the armed services in Vietnam. He wasn’t just out of high school like most draftees; he was 30 and had a family to support. The military needed leaders. As a born leader,Sylvester had a long distinguished military career but he also, as a black man, had to fight for every promotion he ever got.

In Vietnam, he was exposed to Agent Orange, a chemical the U.S. military used to strip the jungle of vegetation that concealed the enemy. The exposure gave Sylvester cancer. He is able to care for himself through diet, exercise, plant medicine, and half a lifetime of know-how. Truly, this is a life lesson in self reliance. He learned this from others long ago and teaches it to all who cross his path. Today, he is a bit round in the middle, but at 76, Sylvester still moves like an athlete. He is a gentle, jovial man. Kind-hearted and real. He laughs and jokes his way through life, and if you are having a bad day, an interaction with Sylvester will surely leave you smiling. You cant help but like the guy. Sylvester wouldn’t hurt a fly, unless it crossed his family or abused a child or woman. If that happened, we would see a side of him that he left in the jungle two generations ago.

Sylvester worked in supply for the U.S. Air Force. He rose to the highest rank an enlisted supply sergeant could. He was the conduit between the troops in the jungle and their supplies, and be damned the person who told him his troops out there in danger wouldn’t have their needs met. I am certain that Sylvester would have told such a person that regardless of the situation holding things up, his men would have their gear and rations and bullets.

So how was it going to happen? And when was it going to happen? And what couldSylvester do to make it happen? He got results. When things had to go into dangerous areas, he was the first in and last out. He didn’t move the goods from the safety of an administrator’s office, as he was entitled to do. If his men were going into harm’s way, he was going, too. He knows how to take care of himself. Faced with tough times, over and over again, he persevered. Kids to raise, work to do, a sick body to take care of, an active mind and soul to take care of – this man knows what life is about.

Some of these tricks he learned from his grandfather, who worked hard to support his family and dealt with severe pain and health conditions himself. He would hang cannabis to dry on a fence that ran along the road near his home. Cannabis was growing wild by the road, it was plentiful, and no one thought anything of it. His grandfather would take the leaves of the plant, the flowers, essential oils, and cannabanoids, a pound of block salt, and often mint or lavender, and put it in a tub of hot water, he would lay in the tub as long as he could while rubbing the plant material and salts around on his body. This is an effective way to remove toxins, relieve pain, promote healing and good health.

Sylvester grew into a young adult in a world that was changing, but he had many life lessons about the way people lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He learned that often natural is better than the new synthetic products, and he learned that sharing the human experience is what’s important in life. He has written a book about his life, been asked to speak and share his life experiences with others.

He has taught me personally many life lessons. He has taught me things about being an accepting parent and understanding a child’s unique needs. He has taught me about the government, as he has seen the depth of their deception. He has taught me more about the difference between sex and love than anyone I know. He paid me and my peers in the cannabis industry one of the nicest compliments I have ever received – that he was glad to see young people in the cannabis industry who have no fear, who are willing to speak unpopular truths, who stake their reputations and their freedoms on the knowledge that they are right and that they have found that fact to be self-evident.

This comes from a man who has faced real fear and real repression and real life and death. For him to validate that in his lifetime, the sum total of all his vast experiences, lead him to believe that I and my contemporaries are on the right path is such a boost that I wish to share that with the masses. If cancer can’t take Sylvester from the world, then I don’t know what will someday. But life is not eternal. Someday he will be gone and his perspective gone with him. So let’s get to know this great man before he goes, and allow him to share those life experiences with all of us. It’s well worth the time, and Sylvester is happy to talk to anyone, anytime.

That’s just the kind of man he is.

Aari Ruben, One Love