When Happy Joe started exploring the business of medical cannabis for veterans, we realized it would be a challenge. The cannabis stigma in our country, and fact it remains illegal under federal law, wasn’t to be taken lightly. Despite these challenges, we knew we eventually had to be in this industry.
As we announced our intention to move forward, we were met with enormous support from people in the military and cannabis community. Research and studies have show how cannabis benefits the well being of veterans who endure Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries, depression, anxiety, and physical injuries. This is not debatable.
We were also met with opposition. Companies and people distanced themselves from Happy Joe because of our stance on medical marijuana. Interestingly, many of the conversations we’ve had with people who oppose cannabis had nothing to do with the medical properties of the plant, but the stigma surrounding it.
The Cannabis Brand
What do you think of when you hear the word cannabis?
Depending on your generational upbringing, your first thoughts might conjure up images of Cheech and Chong or the hippy culture because of its widespread use in the late 1960s. Marijuana is often associated with laziness, dirtiness, lack of motivation, or homelessness. While this might be true in some cases, this generalization isn’t accurate.
Cannabis isn’t about stoners or hippies.
Today, the people most likely to be using cannabis are corporate executives, business investors, professional athletes or musicians our society looks up to. People using marijuana could be your lawyer, doctor, insurance agent, public servant, or professional service provider. If these types of people are contributing to society and building successful businesses, doesn’t that blow the negative stereotypes out of the water?
Cannabis isn’t always about getting stoned.
Medical marijuana can treat PTSD, anxiety, cancer, arthritis, seizures, and other debilitating illnesses. Despite what the government or Big Pharma might want you to believe, research and studies have proven the benefits of this plant. People don’t die from cannabis use; they are helped by it.
The Alcohol Brand
What do you think of when you hear the word alcohol?
Alcohol is often associated with people having a good time or relaxation. Images of fun parties or barbecues permeate our minds. Need to wind down from a hard work day? Have a sip of brandy. Liquor is celebrated and marketed as the magic elixir to our problems.
Alcohol is now associated more with fictional characters like Don Draper of Mad Men, an advertising executive, than a bum on the street holding a bottle of MadDog 20/20 in a paper bag. Having a craft beer or glass of wine is for the astute or sophisticated people of the world. It wasn’t long ago that alcohol production was prohibited and liquor consumption was frowned upon. Amazing how things have changed.
The perspective of alcohol use is vastly different than that of cannabis use, but should it be that way?
Alcohol is the third leading cause of death in the United States. An estimated 88,000 people die annually from alcohol related diseases or accidents. Liver cancer, Cirrhosis, depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and nerve damage is increased by excessive alcohol use.
So how many deaths have occurred of marijuana overdose? Absolutely ZERO! Don’t believe Huffington Post? Here’s a drug data sheet from the DEA stating the same. If you do your own research online, you will be hard pressed to find the “dangerous stats” often shared on social media or other channels by the anti-cannabis advocates.
This begs the question. With more people suffering problems from alcohol, shouldn’t the cannabis stigma be removed from our culture and thus legalized federally?
My Own Personal Experience
It’s easy to quote stats and research, but sharing from my personal experience is also important. My interest in medical cannabis for veterans (or anyone for that matter) is based on what I know and what I’ve read.
I started drinking alcohol at the age of 15 and tried marijuana for the first time at age 17. In all my teenage years of doing both, I made the absolute worst decisions while under the influence of alcohol.
My cannabis use wasn’t for medical reasons, but it did help me deal with depression, anxiety, and mental issues arising from traumatic life circumstances. Creatively I was at my best and certainly never angry or volatile. Sure there were many chocolate donuts and some days of laziness, but overall the experience wasn’t horrific.
Alcohol use was a completely different story! When I got drunk, I could be extremely volatile and there were numerous times I put my life in danger. I did things I wasn’t proud of or that have caused me great pain. Even in my adult life, I’ve made incredibly stupid choices because of alcohol.
Currently I do not use cannabis because it’s illegal in the State of Oklahoma, but I do use CBD oils and topicals for sciatica and anxiety. It’s provided incredible benefits and comfort. I’ve also talked with dozens of veterans who have been helped from cannabis use. While my experience may seem anecdotal to some, it is my experience.
For all of these reasons, it’s why I support the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis. It’s also why Happy Joe will do all we can to enter this industry to improve the mental wellness of our veterans.
Stop the Cannabis Stigma
My purpose is not trying to convincing you to accept my beliefs or our stance on medical cannabis. My hope is to open people’s eyes about the negative stereotypes and cannabis stigma in our country.
What we need to do as a global community is stop looking at cannabis as something evil or wrong. If we can change our perspective about alcohol consumption, then we should easily be able to change our perspective on cannabis consumption.