DENVER (CBS4) - Hundreds of Colorado veterans waited in a long line in Denver on Saturday for free cannabis products.
The free handouts were set up as a sign of protest to a decision by the state's health board not to allow post-traumatic-stress disorder as a treatable condition for medical marijuana.
The cannabis giveaway was set up by Grow4Vets founder Roger Martin and Todd Mitchem, CEO of a company called High There! -- a sort of social networking tool for pot users.
"We teamed up to get medicial marijuana into the hands of those they say need it most," Mitchem told CBS4. "You see and hear their stories, you see the way they operate with cannabis versus prescription meds, and it's a pretty clear picture. I think to deny it because we don't have research, is really short-sighted."
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"We're tired of waiting around for the government to do something to help veterans," Martin said. "We're losing over 50 American heroes every single day as a result of prescription drug overdose or suicide, and the VA's position up until this point has pretty much been let's just keep them in a drug stupor."
The Colorado Board of Health last month voted down making PTSD a treatable condition for medical marijuana. One health board member who voted against the measure said he doesn't feel the link between pot and PTSD has enough research to back it up.
Retired Dr. Christian Hageseth III, a Vietnam War veteran, calls himself a medical marijuana educator, and said on Saturday he's not surprised by that opinion.
"There's no scientific data because there's no research that's allowed, because cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug," he said.
Hageseth now works to educate other veterans on what he says are the benefits and uses of marijuana.
"By and large, most people that I know, who want cannabis for medical purposes, do not like getting high," he said.
Mark, a veteran, was among the many who were in line for the free products.
"If I didn't have cannabis, and I had to rely on the meds from the VA, I would not be alive," said Mark, who told CBS4 he has been struggling with PTSD for 20 years.
He says it has saved him from dangerous side effects and overdose risks from pharmaceuticals that haven't helped him.
"The Valium and Klonopin, things like that, that they've given me, they just made me an addict," he said.
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