History was made on Wednesday, January 1, 2014 when U.S Marine and Iraq war veteran Sean Azzariti made the first legal purchase of recreational marijuana in Colorado. Azzariti suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is not a qualifying condition for marijuana under the state’s medical marijuana laws. He has been an activist for access to a safer alternative to the standard prescription drugs currently available from psychologists for treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
There are many stories of combat veterans struggling with PTSD after returning home from bravely serving their country. Numerous individuals become dependent on pharmaceutical prescriptions or dangerous amounts of alcohol. Marijuana provides a safer alternative for therapeutic relief from PTSD for these men and women.
At 08:00 at the 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, Azzariti purchased 3.5 grams of “Bubba Kush” and a bag of marijuana-infused truffles for $59.74, with tax. In November 2012 Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which was the first step in allowing marijuana to be purchased by adults 21 and older from licensed dispensaries. Since Amendment 64 went into effect it has been legal for residents of Colorado to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plans for personal use. Now that marijuana can be purchased directly from dispensaries, sales have taken off. Colorado dispensary owners claim that the first day of legal marijuana sales brought in more than one million dollars (and a hefty tax benefit for the state).
During a press conference accompanying the first sale of recreational marijuana, Mason Tvert said “A lot of folks have been referring to what’s happening in Colorado as an experiment with legalized marijuana but in fact the experiment was marijuana prohibition, and that experiment dramatically failed. Colorado has developed a far more sensible approach, and in doing so we’re setting an example for the rest of the nation and the rest of the world. Lawmakers and voters around the country are watching what’s happening here, and are interested in taking similar actions and adopting similar laws.”
Activists in at least two states, Alaska and Oregon, are hoping to expand legal recreational marijuana use in 2014. Even Sarah Palin, Former Republican Governor of Alaska, told Fox Business Network in 2010, “I think we need to prioritize our law-enforcement efforts. And if somebody’s gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody else harm, then perhaps there are other things our cops should be looking at to engage in and try to clean up some of the other problems that we have in society.” Several other states are expected to follow with their own version of marijuana reform legislation, including legalization, in 2016.
After purchasing his marijuana, Azzariti said “Thanks, so much,” to the cashier. He will now be able to treat his PTSD without fear of arrest and imprisonment while avoiding the dangers of the black-market. Our veterans deserve more compassion when returning home, and if marijuana, a safer alternative to alcohol and other drugs, helps to treat their emotional and psychological issues, every veteran should have legal access.