Ryan Miller runs Operation EVA*C (Educating Veterans About Cannabis) based in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Their mission is to “support the growth and healing of veterans through mutual assistance, personal development, and community service.” He hosts 16 veterans meetings a month across six different cannabis dispensaries, serving about 80 veterans.
Miller is now training another facilitator so the program can expand into the South Bay in Northern California. Each facilitators has studied “Mindful Resilience for Trauma Recovery” by the Veterans Yoga Project. They undertook Peer Specialist Training with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, enabling them to provide peer support through the VA, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
How do they guide veterans to use cannabis? Miller replies: “Cannabis is so subjective. Really it’s going to be trial and error until the patient figures out what's best for them. We can offer guidance on how to trial and error safely.”
Miller suggests people begin with edibles: start with a conservative portion, wait 60-90 minutes for onset, then maybe take more if you need it. If people take too much, he suggests that taking CBD can help balance the impact of THC, and black pepper as well. (Because it contains terpenes, smelling black pepper can help people come down a bit immediately and chewing black peppercorns can help balance the high in about an hour.) Where did he pick up his knowledge? From years working at Bay Area dispensaries, learning from the patients and their experiences.
Do veterans have unique consumption patterns? Miller responds immediately: “Veterans tend to be on the higher end of consumption, in terms of milligram content, in terms of frequency. Of course they're all different, they’re not a homogenous group, but it's definitely on the higher end of consumption.”
This high consumption rate means that veterans are not happy about the 100 mg milligram limits for edibles in California. You can’t buy a single 1,000 mg edible brownie; now edibles can’t have more than 100 mg in a package. So someone with PTSD who needs 1,000 mg each morning to manage their anxiety must purchase and consume ten 100 mg brownies. Miller remarks acidly “you're going to treat people's pain but give them diabetes.”
Ryan Miller currently hosts veteran’s services in a dispensary setting. Thinking big, he wants to use that as an advocacy platform, promoting safe access for veterans in every state. “You shouldn't have to leave your friends, your family, your work, your community, your church, to come to California, Washington, Colorado to get your medicine.” Miller observes veterans coming to California and sleeping in their cars to get access to cannabis to treat their pain.
“We fought for the country, not the state.”
Ryan Miller stands up after submitting public commentary to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, Oakland, August 7 2018
What about the long term? Miller envisions safe access to cannabis for active duty troops: “We're doing the work that the VA should be doing,” he says. “because the VA should be giving compassionate cannabis to troops like they are so willing to do with opioids & antidepressants.”
We asked Ryan Miller what a delivery service could do to help support veteran communities. We agreed we could help spread the word about Operation EVAC with articles like this. And, Miller suggested, we could help veterans get access to cannabis. Whenever possible, we work with local partners to offer Veterans a discount on their cannabis delivery purchases. We believe cannabis is powerful medicine and we want to promote healing where it can provide real benefit. We’re excited to offer more affordable cannabis, especially to those people with limited mobility.