Military and emergency service veterans gathered at the Nimbin Hemp Embassy on Saturday for the second Weeded Warrior workshop to share stories and information about the therapeutic effects of cannabis.
Veteran and co-founder of Weeded Warrior, Michael Harding, began the not-for- profit organisation in 2014 after suffering debilitating side effects from the conventional treatment methods he was offered.
When cannabis helped reduce his medications and deal with symptoms of social anxiety, hyper-vigilance, and lack of motivation, Mr Harding saw the potential the plant holds for helping other veterans.
“I came across cannabis after hearing about Vietnam veterans having success in treating their PTSD in the U.S.,” he said.
“Our ex-service members need to be given the time and opportunity to find therapies that work for them and provide a sense of purpose and a place of belonging.
“We are starting to see Weeded Warrior become a community where veterans can come together and regain the mate-ship they lost post service.”
Making only his second public trip in over six months on Saturday was a former paramedic from Brisbane who suffers from PTSD.
He says that despite the stigma associated with cannabis he wanted to attended the meeting in Nimbin to find out what other treatment methods were available.
“With PTSD it’s easy to shut yourself off, but I’m glad I made the effort to come along and hear other people’s stories,” he said.
“I had heard of medical cannabis before but didn’t realise it was effective for people with illnesses like mine.”
Fellow co-founder and partner of Mr Harding, Rebecca Houghton, had to choose between her career and providing full time care for Michael in 2012, and has become an unlikely cannabis advocate.
Ms Houghton says she was raised to believe that all drugs were bad and that cannabis destroyed brain cells which lead to a strict no-drug policy in her house.
“Michael showed me a number of personal accounts from veterans in the U.S. and I’ve done my own research, but ultimately it was seeing the improvements in Michael that changed my mind,” she said.
Over the last month Mr Harding and Ms Houghton have traveled interstate to hold meetings with prominent ex-service organisations and to grow awareness of Weeded Warrior.
“We’ve had some positive responses,” Ms Houghton said.
“The fear of criminal repercussions remains the biggest hurdle to people being open to the idea of medical cannabis and we feel that needs to change.”
For details about the next meeting or for further information visit www.weededwarrior.com