If you missed the medical marijuana discussion on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River program this past Monday, you can either click here to listen to a recording of the show or follow WeedPress on Facebook for transcriptions of the show.
Here’s Logan Edwards interview, founder of Legalize Iowa:
Ben Kieffer: Joining me first of all in the Iowa City studio, Logan Edwards with us, an Iowa Marine Corps veteran from Davenport. Logan Edwards, welcome to our program.
Logan: Hey, how you doing.
BK: I understand you served in Iraq from a certain period, from 2007-2008, what can you tell us about your tour of duty there?
Logan: Um, it was long, boring, and – I mean, I guess the best way to put it, is its comparable to sitting on the moon and watching the Earth spin. You know, that’s kind of how it felt to be there. I left life behind here in America, went to Iraq, and went through a series of changes and things over there that a lot of my generation and people back here in America didn’t necessarily go through.
BK: You saw combat over there?
BK: When did your symptoms of post traumatic stress turn up? Were they first when you returned from Iraq, to Iowa in this case, to Davenport?
Logan: Yeah, the symptoms really started manifesting, at times, when they were there, I had lots of anxiety, and periods of depression and stuff when I was there. When I came back was when I really started to notice the anxiety. The panic attacks and things like that. When I was in crowded places, driving, you know, around lots of people, things like that. I noticed I had a lot of anxiety, and problems sleeping as well.
BK: So these would come onto you on a daily basis?
Logan: Yeah. I mean, it was really unrelenting. I think back on it, and it really started like, the moment we walked off the plane. And the guys I was with for 8 months, and we’d never left each other’s sides, all of a sudden we were going home to our families and things, and that’s kind of, I felt like, an alone feeling, and an anxious feeling.
BK: What are your thoughts, when you were feeling that?
Logan: At first I thought it was just kind of a situational type thing that was going to go away eventually. Everything that I’d heard from senior Marines, as well as medical doctors and stuff, was, you know, hey I was 20 years old, I just came back from a war zone, and these were just natural feelings and they would go away after a period of time.
BK: So you sought medical treatment, what kind of treatment did you get initially?
Logan: Well, at first, when I first I came back, nobody really told me I had a problem. I did what a lot of Marines do, I just kind of slipped into, you know, the drinking, and using that as kind of a way to numb my mind and kind of get the anxiety to dissipate. After getting into some trouble with alcohol, and realizing that that was, you know, not beneficial to me, and after some coercion from some senior Marines, I decided to go to the VA and seek treatment, yes.
BK: What did they prescribe? Or what did they diagnose you with?
Logan: Um, at the time in 2008, PTSD wasn’t as, prevalent I guess, as it is now, it wasn’t talked about as much. They diagnosed me with anxiety, and depression and insomnia, at first. They gave me lots of different antidepressants and tranquilizer type benzodiazepines and things like that to calm me down, as well as therapy and talking to people –
BK: Cognitive therapy, that you were having on a regular basis?
Logan: Yeah. We did a lot of work with that, and I really didn’t see much improvement, and a lot of times, the pharmaceutical drugs didn’t agree with me, and I would get lots of side effects. And I’ve spent thousands of dollars in ER room visits in Davenport, going to them after having adverse side effects and making my symptoms much worse.
BK: Ok. So along comes cannabis, how did you hear about that, also from your military buddies?
Logan: Well, what happened with it is, I mean I’d gotten to the point where literally I tried – after three years of trying every treatment that I could through the VA, I got to be, to the point of honestly contemplating suicide, as a lot of returning veterans are unfortunately, you know, are doing –
BK: Did you get past contemplating? Did you attempt?
Logan: Yeah, I got past it, I mean, the reason that I held on was I had just had a newborn daughter, and I really did not, you know, like the idea of my daughter growing up without a father. One more victim I guess of this war, and my own stubbornness kind of led me, I’m not going to give up yet, and I said, you know, and I decided to give the VA one more chance. I submitted myself to an inpatient program for three months, with the VA, that specialized specifically on veterans mental issues, and I tried every pharmaceutical therapy they had, under doctors supervision, as well as emotional therapy, anything like that. After three months of it, my symptoms were no better than they were before, and one thing I noticed when I was in this treatment program was lots of Vietnam veterans that had been suffering for forty years plus. They’re in their sixties now, suffering from the same symptoms that I have. And it’s at that point that I really started to realize maybe the treatments and the answers weren’t going to be given to me by the VA. And so I started to look for alternatives, and that’s when I realized that veterans were having good success with treating some of these symptoms out in states that allowed it. And that’s when I, you know, having no other options and basically feeling like I had nothing left to use, was when I started to use, you know, cannabis. And it did things for me immediately.
BK: What for instance? What did it alleviate?
Logan: Well, from the minute, I mean I used it by inhaling it, I didn’t use it by, the oils or anything like that. I smoked it.
BK: Just standard cannabis that is available now legally in some states?
Logan: Correct. And from the minute I inhaled it, my anxiety dissipated. I mean, we’re talking unrelenting anxiety that had been plaguing me for the past years, that I had tried so hard to get away from it – it helped that immediately. It helped me in ways, also, that I really can’t describe. As far as, allowing myself to, you know, mend relationships that I had destroyed after coming home from Iraq and kind of suffering through some of the, you know, anxieties and things I had, put a real – and you know, using the alcohol – put a real strain on relationships I had. And when I used cannabis, it allowed me to treat the symptoms — get rid of the anxiety, help me sleep – as well as mend relationships with these people in a way I don’t think I would have been able to do had I not used cannabis.
BK: Any downside? Any side effects? You mentioned the other drugs you were given having side effects. What about marijuana?
Logan: Um, the side effects – I mean really, the worst side effect that I’ve seen, it sounds cliché but it’s the munchies. You do get hungry. That’s not, maybe, the greatest side effect to have, but that’s really been the worst side effect I’ve encountered. It does make me sleepy if I use too much of it, but not any further than something like narcotic pain killers that have been prescribed to me. I mean, those impair me so much more, and cause so much, you know, withdrawal effects and side effects associated with them. I have none of those problems with cannabis. If I miss a dose of cannabis, you know, it’s not something I need every day, it’s not something I need every hour, on the hour, as I do with the prescription drugs. And I feel no withdrawal symptoms when I don’t use it.
BK: Logan Edwards is with us, an Iowa Marine Corps veteran from Davenport. He served in Iraq, a tour of duty in 2007 and 2008. As you just heard, has found relief from post traumatic stress disorder in medical marijuana. That’s the topic of our program today. 20 states have legalized medical marijuana. Should Iowa do the same? Perhaps you have a personal story, a personal medical condition that you’ve used marijuana for. 1-866-780-9100. River to River at Iowa Public Radio dot org. We’re also on Facebook, or you can tweet us @iprtalk.