Local organization gifts cannabis to Vermont veterans

Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 7:04 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - For the fourth year, Heady Vermont is providing cannabis and CBD products to veterans.

“It has helped with anxiety, depression and sleep, and all these struggles that came with the injury,” Justin Harris said.

While serving active duty in the Army, Harris says an explosion ended his career. For years, doctors prescribed him pain medication to cope.

“I was up to, at one point, up to 1,000 milligrams a day. Ten years ago, I had a daughter and I just went to my doctor and said this isn’t working for me. I mean it works for the pain, but I’m a zombie. I’m numb. There’s got to be something else,” Harris said.

Monica Donovan, the owner of Heady Vermont, thinks cannabis products can be that something else.

People 21 years of age and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana in Vermont. But it’s not yet legal to sell recreationally. Vermont does regulate the sale of CBD or hemp products, as well.

“People use it for sleep, like I said for PTSD, for pain and chronic pain,” Donovan explained.

She says the group handed out the bags with Vermont laws in mind.

“We’re not selling anything. This is a gifting event. There’s nothing for sale and there’s a limit of how much we give out,” Donovan said.

Cannabis is considered a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S. and health providers with the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot prescribe medical cannabis to patients.

According to the VA, “Research to date does not support cannabis as an effective PTSD treatment, and some studies suggest cannabis can be harmful, particularly when used for long periods of time. Given these concerns, cannabis is not recommended for the treatment of PTSD.”

But, Donovan says every year about a dozen veterans attend the event and claim cannabis has been beneficial for them.

Robert Harris, an Air Force veteran, says turning to CBD has helped him regain control of his life.

“I had arthritis and bursitis really bad,” Harris said. “I can’t believe the fact that I can actually walk around the block now where I couldn’t walk halfway to my mailbox which is like 100 yards. It’s just changed me so much.”

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