Cannabis, PTSD, and “The Strains of War”

Strains of War

When you have a hard day, how do you turn it all off?

Life is hard enough as it is. Now, stop and picture how you would get through tomorrow if you had to remember all the desperate violence of yesterday in vivid detail.

Our veterans have been forced to travel far outside of their comfort zone every time they drop shipped into a war zone on our behalf. Remember each one of our Veterans was once just a regular girl or guy like you, who likely enjoyed back yard BBQ’s and weekends at the lake.

If you think you sometimes have a tough time ‘turning it off’ at the end of a hard day — imagine how a Veteran feels.

We know now that cannabis can help.

Many of our Veterans have been suffering with PTSD in relative isolation for years. We also know now that cannabis can help. This has been proven in clinical trials and studies. And there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence that cannabis works. Yet, the stigma persists.

CTV News quoted Robert MacPhee, who served in the Navy for 15 years, as saying “I can't describe it.” MacPhee adding, “I've waited 18 years for some help, and this is a Godsend.” The comparatively limited side effects of using cannabis over prescription drugs make it the preferred medication for many veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

“Withdrawal is rare, and simply represents the return of the underlying symptoms that existed before marijuana was ever used”

Marijuana For Trauma was founded by a veteran who developed PTSD after serving in Afghanistan. A medical doctor communicating on behalf of MFT commented that, “withdrawal is rare, and simply represents the return of the underlying symptoms that existed well before marijuana was ever used.” Our Veterans were, and still are, our national heroes. As free citizens, we have a debt to fight for their right to access to the medical marijuana they need to cope with their PTSD. They have already fought for us. In Canada, the federal government recently closed down nine Veterans Affairs offices to replace them with online or phone-in services.

The Union of Veterans Employees responded:

“Veterans say they depend on these workers for help in getting psychiatric and medical care, finding community resources and undertaking paper work required to access their benefits and pensions. They say they feel betrayed by the closures because the government promised it would take care of them from the day of their enlistment to the day they died.”

Alcohol is a new enemy for many Veterans. Understandably, if safe, effective cannabis is not available, people suffering with lingering nightmares will sink deeply into the spirits. Routine, daily drinking is a desperate way to live. While cannabis elevates your body and mind — alcohol can drag you deeper into your depression. And some people still recall wicked memories of childhood violence inflicted by an intoxicated adult. Gage Amsler’s own background with alcohol and violence was grimmer than most.

Doc Gage “to those who know” is one of the few people that when they go to write a book about their life — you actually give a shit and want to read it

Recently, I was in contact with R. Gage Amsler, a former elite combat medic turned Veterans advocate, who deserves to get his incredible story told. Robert Gage Amsler, or Doc Gage “to those who know” is one of the few people that when they go to write a book about their life — you actually give a shit and want to read it. Amsler’s book, The Stains of War is being released on Amazon.com August 7th.

His story is a first person re-telling of a life of war, medicine, PTSD, loss, cannabis, and hope. In addition to his upcoming book launch, educating audiences on the realities of war, and the very real effects of PTSD, chronic pain, and the loss that follows, Doc Gage is currently in the process of collecting investors. He is in the early stages of a major project he hopes will save his brothers-in-arms from becoming another tragic statistic.

The plant that may be the best medicine for soldiers to cope with their PTSD was discovered in one of the most dangerous places in the world

Merakii Genetics, based in Michigan, and pronounced ‘May-rah-kee’ is the positive outcome from all the adversity we pile onto our Veterans.

Indica

The company aims to reproduce the wild cannabis recovered from an Afghanistan war zone.

Almost serendipitously, the plant that may be the best medicine for soldiers to cope with their PTSD was discovered in one of the most dangerous places in the world. In early November, 2012 Amsler’s team, Task Force DragonSlayer, was on a recon mission High up in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan. It was here that Doc Gage discovered a short, familiar looking bush with gentle purple leaves, frozen in the ground.

In June 2013 Amsler landed in Detroit after almost losing everything when flagged by Homeland Security upon arrival back in the U.S. from Dubai. Over a period of several months, the seeds were smuggled back though the military camp and border security safely to Michigan where it is legal to grow cannabis. Later analysis confirmed that this particular strain of Indica had the high CBD count that was perfect to calm Veteran soldiers after years of combat. Serendipity.

“To put absolutely everything into your passion and deliver it with absolute confidence is Meraki”

The inspiration behind the company name, “Merakii” is an extension of the Greek word, Meraki. As Doc Gage told me: “It's a word I learned while researching for a college paper years ago, when it came time to find a name for this business that word simply popped up in my head from out of nowhere, it was a perfect fit. To put absolutely everything into your passion and deliver it with absolute confidence is Meraki. Shouldn't life be like this for everyone?”

He told me later, the choice of spelling his brand with a double “ii” was to represent teamwork. He said: The only way for our species to survive is to work together in unity. Merakii with two 'ii's' symbolizes the need for unity. If it wasn't for my daughter Sophia, (13 years old now) I would not be here today. In the military we are taught to respect this way of life, to count on each other when needed, no matter how hard the fight.” You have to know that someone has got your back.

This man may be a bit of a badass: it doesn’t matter; confidence is hard to hold onto when you’re alone

I read once that confidence is something that is often clutched at but rarely held. The story that brought Doc Gage from the mountains of Afghanistan to a greenhouse in Michigan is really quite astonishing. This man may be a bit of a badass: it doesn’t matter; confidence is hard to hold onto when you’re alone.

While Doc Gage was still writing his book, The Strains of War, one of his closest friends choose to end their sentence.

As Doc Gage said: “My best friend at the time, Brian 'Hershey' Reese put his faith in the VA for his PTSD and due to their absolute neglect he was a victim of his own demise and life of abandonment. A pain I am all too familiar with. He was found dead, alone and in need of help.”

In Canada, the CBC reported on Ryan Edwards, the president of Marijuana for Trauma in St. John's, Newfoundland. Edwards was injured during a tour in Bosnia in 1999, and four years later, he was diagnosed with PTSD after almost 14 years in the Canadian Forces. "I tried every pharmaceutical drug… All that happened was weight gain, sexual dysfunction, rage, suicidal thoughts,” Edwards said. "I'll be honest with you, if I didn't have cannabis, if I didn't start using cannabis, I wouldn't be alive today."

Gage Amsler’s story, and his war zone cannabis seeds are a message of redemption, hope and courage for anyone who has fallen down and needs some getting back up again

Doc Gage’s project, Merakii Genetics, is filling a much needed niche in the medical marijuana industry. Veterans, firefighters, medics, security guards, and professionals alike could benefit from using high CBD content cannabis to reduce the strain of their most traumatic experiences.

Gage Amsler’s story, and his war zone cannabis seeds are a message of redemption, hope and courage for anyone who has fallen down and needs some getting back up again.

I’ll acknowledge my generalization here, but I feel the majority of our society lives in relative peace and comfort. We can’t really understand what combat feels like, or what it means to suffer from PTSD, so when a Veteran says that cannabis helps — trust them. Break the stigma.

Don’t be cheap, support our troops

A final bit of warrior wisdom from Doc Gage: he told me, “The world is not meant to be learned from a book alone.” And while that is damn profound — still buy this soldiers book.

The Strains of War is being released on Amazon August 7th, 2015. Don’t be cheap, support our troops. All proceeds will go directly into the research needed to increase awareness and change votes, research & development of new cannabis strains targeting PTSD and all related symptoms, advocacy for veterans and cannabis legalization.

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Seth MacCallum
Seth MacCallum

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