As former U.S. Army Medic John Ramsay, the CEO of Infinite CBD, transitioned back to civilian life after nine years of service, he quickly realized the typical veteran treatment options were not going to work for him.
Ramsay, who was deployed to Iraq and other warzones while serving from 1997 to 2006, returned home with four ruptured discs in his back, as well as knee and shoulder pains, in addition to suffering from anxiety, depression and PTSD. He was prescribed as many as 18 different medications at a time – some of them just to treat side effects of the others – but said he didn’t enjoy the “fog” they created in his mind or the effects they had on his ability to be present for his family.
“It was really hard for me to be that ‘veteran that’s medicated,’” he said Monday. “It wasn’t something I wanted, so I tried to find natural ways to alleviate my problems or help me cope with my stresses – and I found that in cannabis.”
After founding Infinite CBD, a Colorado-based company that makes and sells CBD products, Ramsay is now working to spread more knowledge about the potential health benefits of cannabis and CBD – and the products that can help achieve those perks – particularly among fellow veterans.
Infinite CBD, which launched in 2016 and offers year-round discounts to veterans, recently donated several thousand CBD droppers and gummies to the Weed for Warriors Project, a nonprofit organization focused on convincing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to include cannabis as a treatment option for veterans. The company is also participating in a clinical trial it hopes will help prove the safety of cannabis-related treatments, and will be continuing to donate to the Weed for Warriors Project throughout this month, in honor of Wednesday being Veterans Day.
“Cannabis as a whole has definitely helped me,” Ramsay said. “A lot of the dreams that some of my colleagues suffer from or that some of my old battle buddies tell me about – I don’t have that. I haven’t had a [disturbing] dream since I picked up smoking [cannabis] again in 2006 when I got out of the military. So it’s been really good for me in a way that I couldn’t have imagined could ever happen.”
Ramsay said he first started smoking marijuana at 15 years old, but didn’t truly realize the effect the substance could have on him until after his military career.
He joined the Army shortly after his high school graduation and by the time of his discharge, he already had one child, with another soon to be on the way. He said his young, growing family played a role in his decision to seek out more natural health remedies, especially after learning about the long-term negative impacts, such as liver damage, that are associated with many over-the-counter and prescription painkillers.
He said that cannabis has helped him treat a variety of ailments, though he stressed that his experiences are his own and that no benefits have been formally recognized by the U.S. government.
“I’m not allowed to say that it helps me with swelling or any of my arthritis or any of that, but I can tell you that while I’m taking it, that stuff sure doesn’t seem to bother me as much as it does when I’m not,” he said.
This summer, Infinite CBD partnered with several other CBD businesses to co-sponsor a large-scale clinical trial that is being carried out by ValidCare, a research firm. A total of 150 Infinite CBD customers are participating in the study, which will focus on the effects of cannabis use on their livers. Ramsay said the companies are hopeful the study will provide data they can take to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help show that cannabis isn’t as harmful on the liver as many other drugs.
That study began in July and data from it could be released as soon as this year, according to the study’s backers.
“Hopefully then [the FDA] will allow us to say this can also help with arthritis, this can also help with inflammation,” Ramsay said. “Then, and only then, would they allow the V.A. to [prescribe] it. We’re trying to give them more data.”
‘Care for people’
Ramsay said he would like to see more emphasis placed on better treating America’s veterans.
He said he’s met some veterans who were so heavily medicated by prescription drugs that “they didn’t look like they were enjoying life.”
“It was Abraham Lincoln who made the promise to take care of those who bore the battle – that’s why the V.A. exists,” he said. “In my heart of hearts, I wonder are we truly taking care of our nation’s heroes.”
Ramsay acknowledged that he saw some things during his military career that will likely stay with him. As a medic, though, he was prepared for those scenes.
“But what about those dudes who weren’t,” he said. “You should never see the inside of a human body when they’re alive, unless you’re in the medical field. That’s the kind of stuff your body just can’t process, and I feel like we can’t treat everybody the same.”
He noted that some people seem to do well with traditional pain medications and antidepressants, but others don’t. It’s because of that disparity, he said, that all options should be considered.
“Let’s just care for people however we can,” he said.
“Right now, in these times, while people are scared with COVID and everything going on, we all still have to care for each other,” he later added. “That’s really what Infinite CBD is doing, at its core, and that’s what I did as a paramedic and is probably why I do what I do now – we like to take care of people.”
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