As the number of states with a legalized medical cannabis system within their borders continues to grow, one group that has found the plant particularly beneficial for treatment is U.S. military veterans. Despite the reverence they deserve for their service, Congressional lawmakers have largely prevented veterans from gaining access medical marijuana.
To help raise money and awareness for the country’s bravest men and women this past Veteran’s Day, Snoop Dogg stopped by a fundraising event hosted at Adam Cohen’s brand new Las Vegas dispensary Jardin. Snoop helped amass an excitable crowd in the newly opened dispensary, and a percentage of every purchase made at Jardin that day was donated to the Phoenix Patriot Foundation, an organization that provides “direct support to injured and combat wounded veterans who served post 9/11 enabling them to fully Recover, Reintegrate, and Remain Engaged in serving America.”
In a state where 11 percent of the adult population is comprised of veterans, the fundraiser was an especially heart-warming experience for Jardin’s owner Adam Cohen and its first customers. We sat down with Cohen to discuss his new dispensary, having Snoop Dogg there on the grand opening, and his personal connection with veterans.
MERRY JANE: What personal connection do you have the military veterans?
Adam Cohen: I’ve always been a huge admirer of folks who’ve served in our military. Going back to being a young child and hearing my grandfather’s stories about being a Prisoner of War in Germany during World War II, I’ve always been fascinated and so respectful of the service of men and women who sacrifice their lives for our country.
Why did you decide to connect the grand opening of your dispensary with veterans fundraising?
As it relates to marijuana, I’ve long been a supporter of Dr. Sue Sisley. The work that she has done for PTSD ensures that those who can potentially benefit from the medicine have access to it. So, it seemed appropriate while we were launching our dispensary, which just happened to coincide with Veterans Day, that this was a great opportunity to embrace and try to give back to the community.
Images via Jardin
What did it mean to have Snoop Dogg present for the fundraising event?
It was our grand opening, literally the first day we opened our doors to conduct business. Having Snoop there was a great way for us to introduce ourselves to the community. Snoop was terrific. He came out and was so friendly and welcoming to all of our guests and staff. He really set a great vibe for us.
Why was it so important to you to support the veteran community?
I went to officer candidate school after law school at Quantico for the Marines. I ultimately wasn’t commissioned due to an injury, but having experienced that—the first officers class after 9/11—I could just see the small indication of the sacrifice these people have made for all of us. It’s easy to go through life day by day without taking a moment to really appreciate that, but it’s a profound sacrifice. The sacrifice doesn’t just happen during their terms of service, it lasts a lifetime. It’s left a mark on the individuals, families, and communities in our country. We as a nation have not done a particularly good job of honoring the service of our veterans. I’m happy that we’re one very small piece of trying to rectify that.
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How did you decide that the Phoenix Patriot Foundation was the right organization to support?
I relied largely on our social media strategist Krista Whitley to help us source the right charitable partner for us, and the Phoenix Patriot Foundation ended up being a great fit for us. I’m not comfortable saying exactly the amount we contributed yet, but I can say we raised a significant amount for that organization. I hope it’s the first of many opportunities we have to work not only with that group, but with others as well. It’s important to us that we’re a contributing member to our community—in a micro-sense, to our neighborhood, but in a macro-sense, to lead by example for the entire industry.
Was there a particular moment from the Veterans Day event that stuck out to you?
A woman, who wasn’t a veteran to my knowledge, came up and grabbed me and pulled me aside and was literally crying. She said thank you so much for being here and doing this, coming to our community in this neighborhood. She said she’d been suffering for years with various medical conditions that left her quality of life very low. And she was so appreciative of the fact that we had opened and she now had access to her medicine. It nearly brought me to tears as well.
What are your views on cannabis as a treatment for veterans with PTSD?
So much of what we know so far is anecdotal, and that’s true for relief of all types of medical conditions. For veterans, that’s a broad range of conditions like PTSD, amongst others. Given the current state of federal prohibition, we haven’t been able to do appropriate studies. With that being said, we seem to be breaking down some barriers. It seems to me that the current state of prohibition is criminal in and of itself. The greatest harm of prohibition is enforcement, the fact that we’re denying people access to what a large portion of this country believes is medicine is just terrible.
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But we’re a part of that solution. Day by day we’re trying to break down those barriers, and that’s certainly what we are seeing in the states that just voted on legalized medicinal or adult use of cannabis. Hopefully the end of federal prohibition is in sight, but until that time we will keep forging ahead and providing medicine not just to veterans, but to everyone in need.
What is your ultimate mission with Jardin?
What I wanted to accomplish with Jardin was to raise the bar for the dispensary experience. I wanted to create a luxury environment in terms of a physical dispensary, a high-quality staff in every respect, and a focus on selling high-end products. While there’s a limited universe of products in Nevada, we were able to secure some products that were truly unique to this market, particularly with high-quality flower, which we call our Fuego line. The overall experience is designed to create a luxury VIP experience for our guests, so when they leave they [feel they] have to come back.