California Pot Growers Donate Product to Veterans

California Pot Growers Donate Product to Veterans

California Pot Growers Donate Product to Veterans

By Debbie Gregory

The Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance (SCVA) is on a mission to help their fellow vets by giving them an option to addictive opioids to treat their ailments.

As cannabis growers in Northern California, the alliance sponsors a monthly give-away of medical marijuana products that include smokable flowers, lotions, pills, oils, and candies.

Co-founders Aaron Newsom and Jason Sweatt met through the nonprofit Farmer Veteran Coalition. Newsom served in the Marine Corps from 2002-2006 before co-founding the SCVA. Sweatt is a 10-year Army veteran and director of the SCVA. What began as a way to help Vietnam veterans at the local VFW has grown into the monthly give-away that has helped more than 800 veterans. They are filling a need for many veterans who can’t afford to buy the product yet find it offers them relief for a variety of ailments.

Just because we are not in the military anymore, doesn’t mean that we don’t want to be of service to our community, to our families, and to our neighbors,” Newsom said. “We have veterans recovering from cancer treatment. Their insurance won’t pay for any other medicine besides pharmaceuticals and the obvious treatment options of the healthcare system. So we provide them with high CBD and THC medicine to help them with the side effects of the chemo treatment, to help them eat better.”

No physician in the U.S. — government or private — can prescribe marijuana, because prescription is a federally-regulated process and cannabis currently falls under the Controlled Substances Act’s restrictive Schedule I, a category that is supposed to be reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no medical value.

While VA doctors are prevented by federal law from even discussing cannabis with their patients, House Bill 5520 (sponsored by Rep Tim Walz of Minnesota and Rep Phil Roe of Tennessee) seeks to end that prohibition.

“We try to grow the best possible medicine we can,” said Newsom. “Being from the military, we try to focus on attention to detail and the mission at hand.”