DENVER — Hundreds of military veterans received free marijuana during a special giveaway in Denver designed to show that pot can help ease their pain.
Members of Operation Grow4Vets said the Saturday event aimed to offer veterans an alternative to prescription drugs to help with anxiety, pain and other problems. The organization also says it gave out 400 bags of marijuana-infused products at the Denver Cannabis Giveaway.
"We're really here to help them with their medical conditions," including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, the group's founder, Roger Martin, himself a veteran, told KDVR-TV. "There's a wide variety of ailments. Anything that involves pain."
Stephanie Burton, a veteran Army nurse, told KCNC-TV that she struggles with PTSD, and marijuana helps her sleep at night. Afghanistan veteran Brian Nance, 29, said he used marijuana to wean him off morphine after he fell 40 feet into a ravine and broke his back.
"I've been using cannabis, and it's been helping me," Nance said. "If I don't have to take a pill for four to five hours, for me, that's a big deal."
But pot critics questioned whether the event was safe. Colorado this year rejected marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, so the condition is not on the list of ailments for which doctors can recommend medical marijuana. But it is legal in the state to give away pot for free. And Colorado allows any adult over 21 to buy the drug in recreational stores.
Bob Doyle of the Colorado Smart Approaches to Marijuana Coalition said organizers of Saturday's event were reckless to give away a drug that can also cause paranoia and may have other unforeseen side effects.
"Obviously things that we would not want somebody with PTSD to be experiencing," he said.
Grow4Vets now says it is launching a new project called Save 1,000 Vets that aims to provide 1,000 veterans with a free lifetime supply of marijuana-infused goods.