TUCSON – A group is trying to give free medical marijuana cards to homeless veterans.
Logan Bean was a sergeant in the Army.
“I didn't use marijuana at all,” Bean said. “I was using the pills that the VA was giving me. I was on a whole bunch of things. I had a whole cocktail. It ended up being increasing and increasing and increasing as my body adapted to it. And it got to the point where the side effects were getting worse as well.”
Sean North Sr. said he illegally self-medicated with marijuana until recently.
“Pharmaceuticals have all these weird side effects,” he said, “like diarrhea, stomach cramps, insomnia. I already have insomnia, so I don't need more on top of it.”
They are living at a homeless camp on private property called Bravo Base. That is where they met Jon McLane. McLane got a medical marijuana certification clinic, Dr420, to write recommendations for free and pay their state fees.
“For a lot of homeless vets it's nearly impossible,” McLane said. “Even if they do get some type of pension from the government or some type of disability, it's still a high expense to fit in to one's budget.”
McLane led the Occupy Tucson protests and sued the city of Tucson. Now he is focused on helping homeless veterans through his organization Veteran Rescue Mission.
“Our goal is to try to tackle the recidivism rate and the suicide rate amongst veterans,” McLane said, “and being able to medicate appropriately is a big part of that, and particularly, when you get your card you're not a criminal anymore.”
Another veteran who received the free certification has found housing.
“Once I tried it I was like, ‘This is working,’” Bean said. “And so I kept doing it. I noticed a huge difference, and I’m completely off all those pills.”
McLane hopes to expand the program to help more veterans. He said people can contact Veteran Rescue Mission or Bravo Base if they want to help homeless veterans. The groups also focus on connecting people to services from the VA and other agencies.