OCEANSIDE — Life after the military can be challenging for many veterans, especially those who suffer from disabilities.
To help make life easier for these former service members, a local veteran organization and the city’s only current delivery dispensary have teamed up to inform vets about using cannabis as a form of medicine.
MedLeaf Delivery, Oceanside’s only non-storefront dispensary, partnered with Veterans Walk and Talk (VWAT), a Southern California-based organization, to help veterans take control of their health journey through exercise, cannabis, psychedelics, other plant-based medicines and community.
Each month, VWAT holds community outreach events as well as one-on-one walk and talk therapy sessions and group hikes with veterans. This month, VWAT set up shop with MedLeaf at Legacy Brewing Company on May 12 as a way to attract interested veterans.
At the event, Colin Wells, founder of VWAT, and other organization partners were there to help discuss his mission and the many alternative modes of medicine, like cannabis, available to veterans.
Wells formed VWAT in 2016 with the idea of bringing veterans to the outdoors to share different healing modalities. At the time the focus was strictly on cannabis, but since then the organization has also adopted exploring other plant-based medicines and psychedelics as well.
Wells often goes out and picks up veterans from homeless shelters to take them on hikes where he discusses the possibilities of cannabis and other alternatives while also providing “high-quality medicine when they need it.”
“Usually we go anywhere from Sunset Cliffs down near the city, to up in the Ramona area and everything in between,” Wells said.
Wells is an infantry Army veteran who deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010. He got out of the military in 2012 and is now considered 100% disabled by military standards.
According to Wells, cannabis helped him tremendously throughout his recovery.
“It brought me to the place I am now as far as healing,” he said.
Cannabis helped Wells overcome his heavy addiction to prescription pills and helped him to continue healing as he used it exclusively for nearly three years after that.
“Cannabis definitely helped me get over a lot of humps,” he said. “I was homeless, down and out, living in the woods, and cannabis brought me back to life.”
For each veteran who attended, MedLeaf donated four grams of Rick Simpson Oil, also called RSO, a highly potent THC concentrate with various medical benefits and most often used to relieve cancer symptoms. The oil has a thick consistency like syrup and can be applied as a topical or ingested in food or drinks.
As a veteran-owned business, MedLeaf has been reaching out and connecting with veterans since it opened in June 2020. Justin Baker, the veteran who owns MedLeaf along with his sister Karen Tomlinson, organized the event at Legacy Brewing Company.
“We’re working on getting our name out to veterans,” said Lexi Goudy, office manager at MedLeaf.
According to Goudy, cannabis is one of the leading medicines to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an illness that many veterans struggle with after leaving the military.
Many non-veterans suffer from PTSD and can use cannabis as a form of treatment, like Goudy, who developed PTSD after surviving a mass shooting. She connects much of her healing and overall management of her illness to using cannabis.
Goudy said MedLeaf hopes to continue partnering with VWAT and other veteran organizations throughout the future.