With all the challenges of re-adjusting to civilian society — not to mention that common hardship of treating posttraumatic stress disorder — it’s no question why so many military veterans may choose to consume cannabis. In the spirit of giving a little back to those who gave all, cannabis technology platform Eaze will soon be offering an indefinite 25 percent discount to veterans starting Sunday, November 11.
“Eaze’s social impact program focuses on patient support and working towards sustainable solutions around accessibility and affordability,” says Jennifer Lujan, director of social impact for Eaze. “When we floated the idea of offering a discount to veterans, our community partners spoke and we listened. We more than doubled our standard discount to 25 percent.”
Eaze developed the initiative in partnership with Operation Educating Veterans About Cannabis (EVAC), an advocacy organization that helps veterans take advantage of medical cannabis for different illnesses. Together, they identified cost as one of the biggest barriers preventing veterans from accessing cannabis.
Ryan Miller, a Marine Corps veteran, co-founded Operation EVAC in 2016. “My adjusting to civilian-life post active-duty was met with significant challenges,” Miller says. “The next decade after active duty was one of depression, obesity, alcoholism, you name it. Consuming cannabis was a key tool in strengthening my mental health resilience.”
Often, veterans face barriers even greater than cost when trying to access cannabis. Notably, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which operates the “nation’s largest integrated healthcare system,” forbids its providers from recommending medical marijuana to veterans. This is due to the continued classification of marijuana as a Schedule I illegal narcotic under the federal Controlled Substances Act, according to which, cannabis has no accepted medical value.
However, the VA does not deny benefits or care to veterans who choose to use cannabis, and encourages them to speak honestly about their use with their providers to inform their care. A 2017 survey found that nine percent of veterans reported using cannabis in the past year, and of that group about half used medically. Veterans are more than twice as likely to use cannabis for medical reasons than the general public.
Miller explains that many veterans can only access cannabis if it is free or discounted. But in California, cultivation taxes on gifted pot imposes a cost on donors, and veterans cannot receive such gifts anyway unless they have a medical marijuana ID (MMID). Obtaining a MMID in the state is costly and also interferes with their gun ownership rights.
Lujan explains that the veteran discount is part of a larger effort by her company to support this group of users. “Eaze has been active on the policy front to support compassionate programs and educational programs for veterans,” she says. “We want to ensure Eaze customers who might be veterans are aware of the support groups available to them and bring awareness to various studies being done around post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cannabis. Providing access for veterans is really ensuring we’re offering those who served our country access to a full toolbox of wellness options.” Eaze has helped sponsor the first-ever clinical research study on the efficacy of smoked cannabis as a treatment for PTSD.
Meanwhile, Miller wants to expand the fight for veterans’ cannabis rights across the country. “Our goal is to restore compassion to California cannabis culture followed by safe-access to cannabis for veterans in every state,” he says. “We shouldn't be forced to abandon our families and communities to move to California, often sleeping in cars, for access to healing through cannabis.”