Event attended by almost 2 dozen advocacy groups
Cannabis advocates from around the state came out to the Roundhouse on Tuesday to talk about medical marijuana.
A full day of informative booths and speeches was promised. Almost 20 local and national advocacy groups were there to support and inform people about medical cannabis. A standout among the group was Grow for Vets.
Grow for Vets is based out of Colorado and has a focused mission of bringing down the suicide rate of veterans, which they say gets as high as 50 per day. This organization believes they can reduce that number by providing free medical cards and marijuana to veterans.
This program has been successful in Colorado, and is making strides in New Mexico.
The group pays for a veteran to get their medical card, and they are currently working with local dispensaries to have “patient banks” so that veterans can get free medication as well.
Grow for Vets also has been working with rural areas since establishing itself in New Mexico. Rural areas can be a void for patients for both access to a doctor who will prescribe the medication, and the medication itself.
While Grow for Vets does have an established location in Albuquerque, they also have an office in Las Cruces, run by Chad Lozano.
Lozano explained that Las Cruces was an area they had focused on early because of the lack of access to doctors who will prescribe medical marijuana.
Danny Novy, RN for the program, said they organize monthly trips to other rural parts of the state to get those vets access to medication.
“This last month we were able to organize two events and we signed up a total of 43 veterans,” said Novy.
Grow for Vets is more than just a job for Lozano, it’s also personal.
Lozano’s sister had been a soldier and suffered for years with lack of adequate care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. She committed suicide in 2010.
Veterans Affairs had a strict policy against veterans using medical marijuana until July 2010, if they did they risked losing access to all VA programs. But Lozano believes that if she had access to medication other than opiates and anti-depressants or “drug cocktails” as he coined them, she would still be alive today.
“This is medication, this isn’t recreation,” he said.
**This article has been corrected for errors in it’s original version. 1) Chad Lozano was originally incorrectly identified as Chad Lorenzo. 2) The article originally stated that medical cannabis was legalized in New Mexico after the death of Lozano’s sister, medical marijuana was legalized by the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Care Act in 2007, however the VA program did not allow veterans to participate in programs in states that had medical marijuana until 2010.
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