By: Cecil King
Missouri Cannabis Activists Launch Project 22 For Vets
NORML chapters across Missouri and Colorado launched an educational cannabis initiative called Project 22. The goal of the initiative is to engage veterans, patients, doctors and researchers about the benefits of using cannabis as medicine for treatment of combat-related mental illness.
Six state chapters of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) have joined to support Project 22. Other chapters throughout the US are invited to support Greater Saint Louis NORML, Springfield NORML, NORML Kansas City, University of Missouri NORML, Mid-Missouri NORML, and Denver NORML in supporting the initiative.
The campaign is called ‘‘Project 22’’ to highlight the average 22 reported U.S. military combat veterans that complete the act of suicide every single day. Officials of the Veteran’s Administration (VA) claim only 20 vets a day commit suicide in a 2016 report, “Suicide Among Veterans and Other Americans 2001–2014.” (VA Report: http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/2016suicidedatareport.pdf )
Many veterans and analysts claim the VA under reports suicides because instances of pharmaceutical and illegal drug overdoses and other related suicidal causes are not included in the statistics. The actual number could be well above the 22 per day average.
Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD is one of the leading mental health issues veterans report. “Many veterans have told us that they find relief through cannabis, and have become healthy, happy, functioning, and productive members of society because of it” said Blake Bell, Executive Director of Greater St. Louis NORML.
“Our goal is to educate all veterans that there are safe, non-toxic options for them,” offered Bell at the launch of Project 22 on Veterans Day, November 11, 2016.
Bell intends to honor veterans by providing an all-expenses-paid, educational expedition to Colorado to attend the 1st Annual Institute of Cannabis Research Conference in Pueblo, Colorado from April 28th to April 30th, 2017. The event’s keynote speaker is pioneering researcher Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, Hebrew University, who first identified the THC molecule in 1964, a primary molecular component in the cannabis plant.
Project 22 is now accepting applications from Missouri veterans and will select a total of 22 vets for the trip to Pueblo, CO starting April 27, 2017 and ending May 1, 2017.
Bell says the vets will get to see firsthand the impressive realities of legal medical cannabis in action. They will learn what types of patients are using cannabis as medicine, and get to hear about the experiences of medical cannabis refugees.
Tours of legal cannabis cultivation centers and dispensaries are planned to show the vets how specific strains and products are produced to treat various health concerns. Health care professionals and medical doctors who have recommended cannabis for their patients will explain the results they have witnessed in their patients.
This educational experience will give the veterans of Missouri an opportunity to look beyond the taboo and break free from the stigma of medicinal cannabis use for PTSD treatment.
The Project 22 group has a strong start on its way to reach its $100,000 goal. Donations are encouraged at $22.00 as a symbol of support to prevent further veteran deaths by suicide and can be made here. Tax-deductible donations can be made through NORML Foundation. Information is available on the Project 22 website: www.project-22.org