The VA can’t provide cannabis to veterans with PTSD, so this group gives it out for free
Bailey Rahn August 15, 2017 Share Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Once a month, staff members at the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance (SCVA) fill more than 100 brown paper bags with high-quality medical cannabis and pass them out for free at a local community center. For the military veterans who receive it—many of whom struggle with PTSD—the medical cannabis acts as a lifeline to health.
The SCVA, which operates out of an old office in a Santa Cruz neighborhood, has been serving local men and women since 2011, when the organization was founded by military veterans Aaron Newsom and Jason Sweatt.
After six years of service, though, SCVA’s mission now faces challenges due to an ironic new development: the legalization of cannabis in California. New regulations due to take effect in early 2018 don’t allow the SCVA to continue operating as they do today.
“We’ve tried to create this environment of peace through cultivation and cannabis with a purpose.”
Aaron Newsom, SCVA Co-Founder
“With the new law, if we’re not at the end of the chain of custody, we are not allowed to give away anything for free,” Newsom told me during a recent interview in his office in Santa Cruz. “We have to get a storefront where we can retail our product and determine whether we sell it for $50 or $1.00–or provide it in a volunteer-return basis.”