On the evening of October 18th, after two and a half months of both combat and civilian reconstruction operations, Ryan was patrolling a neighborhood of southern Baghdad in his Stryker armored vehicle. Without warning there was an explosion, and a particularly devastating type of roadside bomb ripped through the Stryker. One soldier was killed instantly, and every person in the vehicle took some degree of shrapnel. In particular, Ryan and another soldier were critically wounded. Ryan’s lower left leg was torn open and mangled, and his abdomen shredded from the inside.
In any other war, and even in the early days of this particular one, he would have not survived. Fortunately, he was able to pull through that initial night, and began the long and difficult road to recovery. After 100 days as a hospital patient, the next three years were spent going in for surgery after surgery to save the leg. The most difficult part was the massive neuropathic pain he continuously felt, and like every other soldier wracked with this torment, it was controlled through over-generously prescribed doses of opiates. At that time, the preferred opiate to prescribe was Methadone.
Methadone certainly made the pain bearable, but at the sacrifice of one’s memory and an overall reduction in one’s cognitive function. Ryan and countless others were battling not only their physical injuries but also were battling with what these drugs were doing to their minds.
In the end, Ryan came out of it and thrived. Unfortunately, many other veterans are struggling. Sadly, some are not with us anymore – either due to suicide, or from overdosing on the very medications aimed to ease their anguish. This is why the cannabis industry is so important to Ryan – he wants to give everyone suffering, especially his fellow veterans, access to a natural and immensely safer alternative to pharmaceuticals.
Cannabis wasn’t immediately on Ryan’s mind as he finished his recovery and began a double masters program at Harvard, earning an MBA and a Masters in Public Policy. After graduating, he moved across the country to work at a high technology startup in Silicon Valley, and after a year there took an operations and management role at a world-class healthcare services provider. The job is rewarding at times, but just not fulfilling enough for him, and he began looking for a field and cause he was truly passionate about.
The huge upside to having moved to California was access to medical cannabis, and it was through Ryan’s therapeutic use of this medicine he came to fundamentally believe in its health benefits, as well as its potential to be a larger societal good.
In 2003, while enlisted in the United States Air Force, I was involved in a refueling accident causing severe internal damage resulting in a diagnosis of severe Gastroparesis. In 2004, I became one of the youngest patients in the country to undergo surgery to have a GI pacemaker implanted. By 2005, I was a Disabled Veteran dealing with extreme gastroparesis and the horrible side effects that come with it. The implant would eventually be rejected by my body, and need to be removed. With no other forms of treatment or options available to me, I am left with chronic pain management of severe nausea and other issues related to my disability.
As part of my chronic pain management, I became one of the first Disabled Veterans prescribed Marinol, a synthetic version of THC in a pill form of Dronabinol extract. Years of chronic pain and chronic nausea being poorly managed by too small dosages of Marinol, coupled with the damaging side effects of taking pills longterm, led me in a search for a better quality of life.
In 2012, my family moved across the country to Colorado where I now have access to all the meds I need to help manage my chronic side effects that come with having Gastroparesis. Thanks to medical marijuana and the advancement of recreational marijuana in Colorado, I am living a much higher quality of life, with my pain and nausea controlled and moderated better than ever before.