Meet John: Military Veteran & Medical Marijuana Grower
Grant Pharms MMC is a family-run, local dispensary specializing in medical marijuana for those suffering with pain, PTSD, anxiety, etc. “Family” at Grant Pharms stretches beyond the mother-and-son partnership who serve as respective owner and grower in the business. When given a chance to spend time with those working at Grant Pharms, it feels as those everyone there is family. The level of passion for the business and the patients they serve is inspiring. John, a U.S. Army Veteran and current grower at Grant Pharms, is part of the family now.
John’s Military Service
John’s start in the military was rough, as it was still the 80’s Army in Alaska when he reported to his first duty station, 1/501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. John was in the world’s only Arctic Parachute 81mm Mortar Platoon.
John Writes: My knees were not holding up to the demands of airborne mortar maggot, and my PL was exploring the option of medically chaptering me when my reenlistment window opened. I was not done with the Army, even if the Army had thought it was done with me. I jumped on the chance to reenlist into the Aviation world. I went to Fort Eustiss, VA and re-classed to Blackhawk General Mechanic. After about 2 years, of busting wrenches on the UH60A, I was sent to Flight platoon never to come back to the mechanic role.
Overall, I was deployed into 4 combat zones: Bosnia-Herzogovina once, The occupation of Iraq, and Bagram, Afghanistan twice. I also did my time on the Trail for BCT at sunny tropical Fort Jackson!!!
My time came to a close after a successful 22 years in the Army. I was working as a 1SG at Shell Army Airfield, in Glorious Fort Rucker. For the record, this is an excellent place to retire out of military service. The DAV was top notch, and in the end, without sacrificing my integrity I was rated at 100% on the VA disability scale. Though nothing is catastrophic, I had 27 individual ratable issues (ranging from 0%-50%).
Life After Service
Upon my retirement in July of 2014, I started reading news articles about the skyrocketing Veteran suicide rate, and the opioid addiction rates amongst the Veterans with PTSD. Most of the news at the time cited the VA with the opioid cocktail they had been prescribing to the PTSD vets. I had known that I had PTSD, though not as strong as some of our brothers are dealing with. I did have rage issues though, startle response was pretty strong, night terrors, severe aversion to public/ large crowds. All the typical fun things we get to experience!!
The biggest problem with all this? My son. I am a single Dad. I have raised my boy by myself (minus deployment time) since he was two years old. The VA had already earned its reputation as far as the zombie/suicide cocktail they had been prescribing my brothers and sisters. My son could afford neither a zombie, nor a dead dad. VA drugs were not an option. My options for treatment were pretty bleak, that is until someone handed me a hand rolled joint.
New Hope for a Veteran
For the first time in over a decade, I slept straight through eight hours, and I don’t think I even twitched. Ever since my deployment to Iraq, four hours of sober sleep would be the best I could ever muster. That morning when I woke up the whole world was different. Instead of trying to filter the sounds and identify threats, I was perceiving things much more clearly than before. The sun was brighter. I was actually hearing the birds chirping. Most importantly, I was not angry at all the next day, for anything. At that point I knew I had to have cannabis in my life.
Eventually I got up the courage to start attempting my own grows. I would have classified my work prior to working for Grant as “hobbyist”. After about 4 grows, I was becoming super in love with my new girl Mary Jane. I was growing her, studying her, and always just in awe of her plant structure. I suddenly received news that one of my Brothers had made an attempt on his own life. This news really drove a point home for me. Though I have had many challenges after retirement, I dodged the bullet of post-service suicide ideations. Cannabis has spared me that horror.
I already possessed the general knowledge of the plant’s uses in combating PTSD, and had the general skills to grow. It was time for me to start paying back to the Soldiers who did everything for me. After considerable thought. I figured the best way to help was to find a marijuana grower who would teach me the ways of the force. But not just any “Grower” would do. They would need to be a Veteran-Friendly medical marijuana supplier, so that I could maybe later help them help my brothers and sisters in green.
So my search began. I researched many dispensaries here in Colorado Springs. Many of them are great establishments. However, what I found at Grant Pharms as a customer was what I wanted to work for. Nikki and Grant had started a dispensary that is focused on the love of the plant, and using its medicinal properties to heal the sick and injured in our world. The entire dispensary was super professional, especially the bud tenders, who were not only able to quickly figure out what level of patient I was, but instantly began committing my tastes and product preferences to memory. They eventually got to where they could make an educated guess on what I was coming in for!
I was able to talk with Grant a couple times before he knew I was actually “casing” his joint for future employment. Of course as a customer, due to cleanliness and legal restrictions, I wasn’t able to witness the grow first. However, you could tell that when Grant talks about cannabis, he is talking about his first true love. This was the man I wanted to work for! Nikki earned my loyalty when she started hitting me up about how to take care of the vets. I knew I was lucky enough to find where I belonged on the first shot!
His Service Continues
Medical Marijuana has changed John’s life, and the gratitude for such has seeped into the soil of the plants he grows. His passion for Grant Pharms equals his passion for continuing to serve his country. Recently, John wrote a letter to the Command Sergeant Major seeking advice on how Grant Pharms can give back to the military veteran community. Grant Pharms employs a couple of veterans and are always seeking new ways of serving the veterans in our community.
“God blessed me with 22 years of working amongst heroes. Those heroes were the ones responsible for my life and how it is lived today. I owe my Soldiers, my peers, and my superiors a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. I swore to myself once I got myself stabilized on the outside I would find a way to assist our veterans and soldiers” stated John, and he is staying true to his word by actively seeking military council on how to continue serving the community.
JOHN R. MCDONALD
SFC (R) US ARMY (92-14)
Learn more about how we support our veterans at Grant Pharms MMC in Colorado Springs!