A Veteran's Story: From Opiate Addiction to Cannabis Hope

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Name and Rank: Sgt. Kevin Richardson, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran & Founder, Weed for Warriors Project
 
Kevin Richardson joined the Marine Corps in 2000. After serving four years, he was honorably discharged. Seeking relief for pain, he became addicted to painkillers. Richardson suffered through four separate suicide attempts before using cannabis as a medical alternative to opiates. Cannabis changed his life, helping him quit alcohol, prescription medications, and re-forging his bond with his wife and family. 
 
When you returned from service, what was your condition?:
I was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps in 2004. At that time I was given a 40% disability rating. 
 
When did you first start using opiates and how were they prescribed?: 
After several trips to the VA Medical Center Emergency Room in 2005/2006, I was put on a prescription of 100 Vicodin a month.
 

"The first time I took an opiate, I was pain-free and slept like a baby. The problem was I began to chase that feeling. To be pain-free was amazing. One pill quickly turned to two, two to three and so on. I was hooked." 

 
How soon after you started using opiates did you find yourself addicted?:
The first time I took an opiate, I was pain-free and slept like a baby. The problem was I began to chase that feeling. To be pain-free was amazing. One pill quickly turned to two, two to three and so on. I was hooked. 
 
What was the impact of opiate use on your life?: 
I became angry and almost lost everything dear to my heart. My marriage was on the rocks, my children were afraid of me, and I hated myself. It eventually led to me attempting to commit suicide. I took over 75+ Norco 10's and drank enough alcohol to put down a horse. If it wasn't for another Marine saving my life I wouldn't be here today. 
 
How did you stop using opiates and start medicating with cannabis?:
The Marine who saved my life re-introduced me to cannabis and, through cannabis, I was able to stop drinking alcohol, taking opiates, and prescription drugs all together. 
 

"I became angry and almost lost everything dear to my heart. My marriage was on the rocks, my children were afraid of me and I hated myself."

 
How has your life changed since you stopped using opiates and started using cannabis?:
Cannabis gave me my life back. I became a better father, a loving husband, and I founded the Weed For Warriors Project within 30 days of my suicide attempt. Not only was my life saved through cannabis but now thousands of veterans across the nation have been made aware of the healing powers of cannabis. 
 
image1-1How has cannabis improved your health, relationships and lifestyle?
Through my study of cannabis and with the help of my lovely wife I was able to adjust my diet and benefit from the full benefits of the cannabis plant. I lost 45 pounds and my overall health has improved tremendously. 
 

"My fellow veterans are over medicated by the VA and well over 22 a day are committing suicide. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and so have sales of these prescription drugs...As far as I know, and you can google it yourself, there have been zero deaths related to cannabis use."

 
How did you feel when you heard White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer equate cannabis use to opiate addiction?:
This nation is blinded by propaganda and ignorance. Advocacy and education are key to liberating people from such false statements. Politicians are just puppets funded by pharmaceutical companies. The Veterans Affairs Administration spends billions on pharmaceutical drugs every year.
 
My fellow veterans are over-medicated by the VA and well over 22 a day are committing suicide. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and so have sales of these prescription drugs. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids. As far as I know, and you can google it yourself, there have been zero deaths related to cannabis use.  
 
If you had the chance, what would you tell President Trump about medical cannabis?
Don't knock it till you try it. All joking aside, I would tell him to allow veterans the option of cannabis over prescription drugs. Cannabis has been known to lower both opiate addiction and suicides in states where it is legal. It has saved my life, it is saving veterans lives and it is time we end a war on a plant. 
 

"I would tell him to allow veterans the option of cannabis over prescription drugs." 

 
What would you like the President and Attorney General Sessions to know about the cannabis community?:
We are here and we will be heard. 
 
How can folks learn more about you and your work?: 
They can check out the Weed For Warriors Project website at WWW.WFWPROJECT.ORG, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and twitter or email us at info@wfwproject.org. We have chapters across America with veterans standing up in the name of cannabis making a real difference in their communities.