Mission: Helping Veterans heal through cannabis fellowship with other like minded Veterans and community projects.
Kevin, the founder of Weed 4 Warriors Project, was a Special Ops certified Soldier in the U.S. Marine Corps and was a member of the first infantry unit deployed in Operation Freedom. He spent his first eight and a half months of deployment working at terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan
After four years active duty and four years in the reserves, Kevin went directly from the military to government contracting; thus, leaving him no break to take a breath of fresh air and putting him in a mental state that in his own words, “almost killed me.”
As a result of being in the US military, Kevin began showing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and was afraid it was going to prevent him from continuing his career. He left the military 40% disabled, and he says, “I didn’t want anything to do with the military VA.”
It was not long after his discharge from the Marines that he started to lose feeling in his legs. He began drinking heavily and using prescription painkillers. Kevin’s doctors hospitalized him officially diagnosing him with severe PTSD. Additionally, diagnosed with a mild brain injury suffered from head trauma due to use of, USMC martial arts, in both training and combat; in addition to, “taking one to many punches to the head” while professionally fighting after leaving the military. “I was looking for an outlet to release all the aggression, ” Kevin said.
A life built around anger and hate, left him in a desperate position where he attempted suicide on multiple occasions. One of his fellow veterans who had 50% of his intestines removed due to Crohn’s disease – developed from anthrax shots – suggested using cannabis instead of the psyche medications, after Kevin’s last suicide attempt.
He was always aware of the medical use of cannabis, but being from a disciplined background with strict rules and high-and-tight haircuts, he was sure to conduct his own research before treating himself with cannabis. Within six months, Kevin stopped
drinking alcohol and weaned himself off all of his prescribed psychiatric medication. In short, his life began to improve with cannabis.
His first experience with edibles is a cautionary tale. A friend gave him some THC capsules and 180mg cookies, and without having any clue what a standard dose is to someone who has never really ingested marijuana before, he consumed them. “I took the caps and the cookie at the same time. It was the worst trip ever. My only knowledge of cannabis was smoking blunts and drinkin 40s in high school,” Kevin said.
Kevin’s first unpleasant experience with cannabis infused edibles did not deter him in any way. Through additional personal research, Kevin learned about ‘microdosing,’ which is something the Weed 4 Warriors Project highly promotes – starting low and going slow. The key thing for new edible consumers to remember is that you can always eat more, but you cannot eat less.
One day, not long into Kevin’s new love affair with cannabis, a collective in San Francisco, Elemental Wellness, hosted an Air Force Iraqi Freedom Veterans group. Inspired by the dispensary’s effort, Kevin came up with the concept of helping Veterans
W4WP began as advocacy at first, putting out free artwork for veterans and getting information and knowledge to the general public and cannabis community. It quickly grew into much more than spreading cannabis awareness to Veterans; it became a platform for Veterans to create an alliance, helping and connecting fellow Veterans, allowing them to gain back the camaraderie lost after leaving the military.
“When you’re on the battlefield, you fight for your sisters and brothers left and right of you. My wife didn’t understand me. Your family doesn’t understand you. When you get Veterans back together, you get the camaraderie you build with each other, which left the biggest hole in my heart after leaving the Marines. They’ve found that when football players retire, there is a void left in the brain without their team. Our mission to is to help Veterans and give them the camaraderie with their brothers and sisters. I used to think, I’m the only one out there thinking these crazy thoughts,” Kevin said.
Due to the negative stigma still associated with cannabis, most veterans that are cannabis patients are closet smokers, out
of fear of repercussions from the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (commonly known as the VA) or public opinion. These fears and judgments make it extremely difficult to get Vets the help they rightfully deserve.
Many Veterans with disabilities leaving the military are treated with free pharmaceuticals, which often times worsens their quality of life. According to Kevin, “Eighty percent of the psyche meds are making things worse.” He explains “[sometimes] I’ll be at the VA talking about cannabis, and no one will say anything during the group, but afterward they’ll approach me privately and say, ‘I smoke too,’ and share how cannabis has helped them. But they still don’t want to be public about it.”
“It started with social media and just putting myself out there. Then I got hit up by Denver, and connected with some people out there”. To help another Army Vet brought him to tears, “that love is never going to die, before our movement these Veterans had nothing to fight for, it’s always been in them, but it’s caused such a great impact,” Kevin said.
Having lost several of his Veteran friends to suicide, it is his passion to help keep that from continuing. Kevin says, “We are losing more than 22 veterans a day (that’s only monitored in 21 states). Veterans account for 7% of the nation’s population, and 20% of the nation’s suicide. That’s a scary thing, if you really think about it. W4WP allows an outlet, instead of locking yourself in a room and hiding, afraid of what we may do in public. Living in a warrior mindset for so long makes you shut out the world. There are a lot of Veterans out there that if it
wasn’t for our organization they wouldn’t
be here right now.”
In an effort to help end US Veteran suicides, Weed 4 Warriors Project operates a hotline [408.681.W4WP], that anyone can reach out to, for any reason. Kevin explained that on several occasions he has personally talked people out of suicide. He testifies his gratitude for being able to personally help Veterans with cannabis.
Weed 4 Warriors Project is currently in phase II, which is setting up Veteran support groups across the nation. They will make donations and create chapters in the legal states, and in non-legal states they will form advocacy groups for marijuana legalization.
Currently, the organization is working to expand their network and are in the beginning stages of opening a Resource Center for Veterans, where they can receive free counseling, free medicine, take classes on cannabis, and participate in camps. They want to create a retreat,
where Veterans and their families can go to get help through cognitive therapy and activities like medicated paintball wars and hiking.
Additionally, as part of the W4WP’s five year plan, they will create a ‘grow squad’. Essentially, they will supply Veterans with genetics clones, so they can grow their own medicine, at their own homes, and then donate part of that medicine to help
The Weed 4 Warriors Project, currently has six chapters in California including; Los Angeles, Sacramento, Ventura County, San Diego, and San Jose – beginning May 3rd and more to come soon. They have additional chapters in Colorado, Arizona, and Washington/Oregon. W4WP is not exclusive to US Veterans, in fact, an Australian Veteran is working to establish chapters ‘down under’.
If you are interested in starting a chapter, reach out to W4WP on their contact page at www.Weed4WarriorsProject.org. They are selective in who they allow to run a chapter as it is extremely important they know your heart is in the right place. The leader of the chapter is responsible for finding a location to hold meetings, working to help Veterans in the local areas, empowering other Veterans with the mission to give back to the community. They support all Veteran organizations, whether or not they relate to cannabis as the goal is to help Veterans in any capacity.
If you are a vendor or donor, and would like to contribute to the Weed 4 Warriors Project, please email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. They seek to form strategic alliances, working alongside different companies, connecting patients with vendors. Currently, they are working with vendors like MIss Mary Jane’s Edibles, Shatter Stick Vapor and Cali Sticks.Ultimately the goal is to get cannabis legalized whilst assisting veterans.
All services are free to Veterans, as the organization is not i to profit off the Vets. The only all they ask for is proof of military service. If you are a Vet in need of assistance with medicine or are struggling with suicide or PTSD, please call the W4WP Hotline (408.681.9497). They are there to help you.
Through Kevin’s personal experience with cannabis helping to save his life, he preaches that cannabis is a tool, not a cure. “I’m proud to be a Marine and a Veteran, and I’m proud to be in control of my life with cannabis. Everyday I look at my children and think about it and think that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for cannabis. That story is popping up time and at a time again with Veterans. It’s emotional but empowering at the same time. For us, it’s fuel to our fire; our passion.”
W4WP Hotline: 408.681.W4WP
B. LE GRAND