Veteran Roberto Pickering suffered from PTSD so badly after returning from war in 2004, that authorities recognized him as a disabled person. Now he’s involved in an initiative that will help veterans with PTSD to get cannabis and even jobs in the medical cannabis industry.
If you were to meet Pickering today, you’d think he was a regular Joe Soap, until you peel back the onion and find he is vegan, a Buddhist, teetotaler and most definitely not on any prescription pills, or opioids. In fact, he is out to fight the opioid epidemic which has claimed the lives of some of his veteran friends. He promotes cannabis as an alternative. LA Weekly spoke to Pickering about his ambitions and experiences.
The Battlefield Foundation
Pickering sees cannabis cultivation as a way of creating meaningful work for veterans who are working to adjust to normal society. They can get a second chance, earn some good money, and support their families while they get weaned off opioids.
Dr. Sue Sisley and Pickering teamed up about a year ago after she received the go ahead from government to investigate cannabis for PTSD. They launched Battlefield Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based near LA.
The first concern of the Battlefield Foundation is to provide veterans with PTSD and other injuries with emotional support to help them integrate back into society again.
Secondly, vets will get guidance on using medical marijuana as a therapy instead of the opiate based alternative.
The opioid epidemic in the veteran community is understandable, since many have old injuries and prescriptions of morphine and opioids lead to addiction. Pickering says he has lost fellow Marine Corps soldiers through opioid overdoses. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs prescribed them these treatments.
A selection of our products
This is where Dr. Sisley and her team from Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) enter the picture. They received a grant from the US government to do a study on cannabis for PTSD.
It’s not a new idea. Several interest groups want to help veteran soldiers with PTSD to get cannabis legally because so many of them say it helps.
The only catch was that they had to use cannabis from the University of Mississippi, grown for NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Unfortunately, the quality was not of a meaningful standard. Sisley decided to apply for a license to grow cannabis for the sake of the study. Battlefield Foundation has been waiting for approval from the DEA national office for more than a year.
Helping veterans with PTSD to get Cannabis: science matters
One of the primary aims of the foundation is to raise funds for clinical trials. Doctors need access to data published in medical journals for peer review. These studies would determine how to use cannabis as a treatment for PTSD.
Trials costs millions, but vets with licenses could just report back to the foundation and Sisley. While MAPS and Dr. Sisley await their license to grow cannabis, they are building a database of veterans who could participate in the study.
The foundation will find vets returning from war with PTSD and other injuries jobs in the cannabis industry. This gives vets a sense of purpose and meaning as they are now fighting the war against the opioid epidemic.
Pickering has his own cultivation facilities, two in L.A. and one in Oakland. He gladly employs vets, helping them to make the transition back into society after returning from war. Pickering feels that helping veterans with PTSD to get cannabis is only part of the picture. They also need jobs to support their families.