DERIDDER, La. — Four veterans representing countless others have been sticking their necks out to advocate for the legalization of medical cannabis in Louisiana.
Bud Clark of Longville served in the US Navy from 1972 to 1975, Paul Bonial of Alexandria served in the Louisiana Army National Guard and then the U.S. Army from 1983 to 1992, Tony Landry of Jennings served in the U.S. Navy from 1988 to 1994, and Brian Greer of Lafayette served in the Louisiana Army National Guard from 1987 to 1991.
The four of them on March 27 participated in a rally for the legalization of medical cannabis in Baton Rouge. “We are being the voice for many people who contact us,” Landry said. “We aren’t just advocating for veterans but for all people in Louisiana.”
Landry moderates a Facebook page called Louisiana Veterans for Medical Cannabis.
The goal of their involvement is to help veterans who suffer from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
They also strive to educate and break down stigma and misinformation surrounding the medical use of cannabis.
“There is empirical evidence showing cannabis is effective for both of these issues,” said Bonial, who is a practicing counselor, mostly for addiction treatment.
Many veterans with chronic pain are prescribed addictive opioid medications. These come with a whole host of issues — one being that the body eventually builds a tolerance to opioids.
“The opioid epidemic is a national scourge,” said Landry, who injured his back while serving in the US Navy.
He went through two back surgeries and started on a