Tampa Cannathon Raises Awareness and Funds for PTSD Research

By the time people organize road races to raise money and awareness for a health condition, it is well on its way to the mainstream. In Tampa last weekend, on July 11, 2015, FCCActive, a local non-profit promoting medical cannabis use as part of a healthy lifestyle, organized the state’s first 5K cannabis-themed road race to help veterans and their families understand post-traumatic stress disorder and how to treat it, including with the use of cannabinoids. The event took place near MacDill Air Force Base.

“PTSD is a debilitating illness and it’s for real and it’s a problem,” said Garyn Angel, CEO of Magical Butter, a Port Richey-based company sponsoring the event, told Creative Loafing Tampa, a local zine. “If you watch what’s happened with the suicide rate for veterans, it’s staggering.” Angel’s company manufactures kitchen plant extractors that medical users can use to make cannabutter at home.

While many different kinds of individuals suffer from PTSD, which is essentially the body’s triggering of extreme stress and flight-or-fight mechanisms long after a traumatic event, the vast majority of those suffering the most are the nation’s veterans, who are still routinely banned from using the drug even under a doctor’s care.  Furthermore, veterans “convicted” of medical marijuana use can lose other benefits, and of course, can still be arrested for trying to treat a difficult-to-manage and life-long health condition. There is still no state in the country, including Colorado, where users, even for medical purposes, do not face discrimination on the job or the threat of being legally fired for off-the-job, medical use.

Veterans are also on the front lines of this war too. Last year, Princeton University made the news when an 18-year employee, who was also a military veteran, lost his job for being part of the New Jersey medical marijuana program.

“[Veterans] have sacrificed and suffered the most for our freedom. Yet today many of our nation’s veterans lack the freedom to safely and effectively treat the paralyzing effects the invisible scars of battle can leave behind,” said Pete Sessa, COO of the Florida Cannabis Coalition.

The run cost between $38-50 a person and included a commemorative T-shirt, water bottle, and invitation to an after-party complete with the Magical Butter food truck.

Florida as a state is still struggling with how to legalize all forms of cannabinoids. Last year, the state legislature passed a watered-down CBD-only bill; a voter amendment to change the state constitution to allow all forms of medical cannabis use, including THC, was narrowly defeated at the polls through procedural rules rather than popular support. The initiative to legalize medical cannabis won 58 percent of the popular vote, but it was still 2 percent less than required to change the constitution and enable the measure to become law.

Many of those who suffer from PTSD, as well as those suffering from chronic pain, argue that CBD-only medication, while useful for treating many conditions including childhood epilepsy, does not effectively treat this condition.

It is also widely expected that activists in Florida will join others including California, Nevada and potentially Ohio now lining up to force the issue through during the presidential election of 2016.

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