Medicating in Wartime: The Cannabis Legacy of Vietnam Veterans


A GREAT article by Leafly, featuring one of our Chapter President’s, John Adams, and WFWP Attorney, Dale Schafer.


“April 30th marks the 43rd anniversary of the Fall of Saigon and the end of the War in Vietnam. About three million Vietnamese, and more than 58,000 Americans, were killed during the war.

Close to three million American men and women served in Vietnam. And around one-third of those military personnel, according to recent studies, smoked marijuana……


John Adams became president of a Weed for Warriors chapter last year. Along with their work with veterans, the group also does community-based projects like feeding and clothing the homeless, beach cleanups, and working with local food banks.

Bill Crain credits Weed for Warriors with showing him how to properly medicate with cannabis, how to deal with his PTSD, and how to give back to the community.

“Before I started going to Weed for Warriors, my PTSD got so bad I just stayed in my house,” he said. “I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t have a lot of friends. But I just got back today from going downtown, feeding the homeless. I like hanging out with this group of vets. We’ve all got the same kind of issues.”


The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, has been calling on the federal government to legitimize cannabis and invest in medical marijuana research.

“Our National Executive Committee, most of whom are Vietnam-era veterans, approved a resolution in 2016 that called for the removal of cannabis from Schedule I and called upon the federal government to enable greater research into the safety and efficacy of the drug,” Joe Plenzler, the Legion’s director of media relations, told Leafy via email.

Veterans groups like the Weed for Warriors ProjectHeroGrown and other cannabis advocacy organizations have also sprung up, advocating for veterans to access medical marijuana as a viable treatment option, especially as an alternative to the opioids and other prescription drugs. The overprescription and overreliance on those drugs, say some advocates, contributes to the estimated 20 veteran suicides a day in the U.S.


Dale Schafer, 64, a California-based attorney specializing in cannabis law, was a Navy hospital corpsman from 1974 to 1976.  He spent much of that time in an Oakland hospital dealing with trauma patients, mostly wounded and otherwise injured servicemen and women brought back from Vietnam.

He laughed when asked whether he used cannabis while in the Navy.

“It was very interesting,” he told Leafly. “When I first went in and went to boot camp I thought people didn’t do it. But once I cleared boot camp the next place I landed was corps school and people were using it there. There was random drug testing, basically for-cause drug testing if they found suspicious activity. They’d make you piss-test, and I never got piss-tested so I never had to face it.”


To continue reading:

Photo Above: In this Jan. 1, 1966 file photo, a Paratrooper of the 173rd U.S. Airborne brigade crouches with women and children in a muddy canal as intense Viet Cong sniper fire temporarily pins down his unit during the Vietnamese War near Bao trai in Vietnam. (Horst Faas/AP, courtesy of Ken Burns/PBS)

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Headquarters: Sacramento, California