The first time GRAM wrote about Tara DeMond was in our May/June 2019 issue. A year later, we felt it was a good time to catch up with this very busy RN who works as a consultant for medical marijuana treatment centers in Florida, while running a nonprofit she started with her husband, Jeff. Tara and her husband created The Grateful Veteran. Their mission is “promoting change through education.”
Tara was thrilled to tell us all about the exciting things they have coming up and the changes that have taken place in the last year with Florida’s medical marijuana program. Things at The Grateful Veteran have been extremely busy. “We have a lot of upcoming educational events in the cannabis industry. In addition to providing education to patients and veterans with PTSD, this year we are even more focused on community outreach as a whole,” says Tara.
So far, The Grateful Veteran has assisted over 100 veterans with receiving their medical marijuana recommendation. “We help them with the $75 application, we have doctors who donate their services, there are teams of volunteers who make everything we do possible. Thanks to these teams, we are creating future events and fundraisers with local artists,” says Tara.
November 8, 2016, medical marijuana finally passed in Florida. “When the industry first began, only two routes of administration were allowed. Now, all routes are available. Some patients (myself included), require a topical, a tincture, and a hit of a vape pen at bedtime. That is three routes of administration just to go to bed,” Tara tells us.
“One of the most common things we assist new patients with is their paperwork. Changes occur in the patient registry all the time, so we also assist physicians by showing them how to properly fill out all the forms. On the upside, more patients have access to their medicine thanks to more and more dispensaries opening.”
“Thanks to more dispensaries opening we have an increase in access and availability, growth in availability of products, ratios in tinctures and pain patients using concentrates. And whole flower now being available has officially changed the game. It has been so interesting getting to know patients. Older people in South Florida didn’t want to vape, etc. they wanted flower because that’s what they knew from back in the day. They are going back to making their medicine via edibles using whole flower in any way that they choose. You simply can’t categorize age groups when it comes to medical cannabis. We have seen every single age in the spectrum,” explains Tara.
In addition to running their nonprofit, Tara and Jeff are actively involved at Florida Gulf Coast University in the Cannabis Career Club (also known as C3). They assist students by getting them jobs in the industry at dispensaries, doctors’ offices, and more. They hold weekly meetings based on students’ schedules. Last year they created a Cannabis Carnival called CannaCon, and it was such a great success it will now be held as an annual event.
Tara leaves us with her future passion, “My goals in the future include something that is near to my heart in general. I want to look more into Alzheimer’s research and science supporting the disease utilizing cannabis, in honor of my mother.”
http://thegratefulveteran.com/ The Grateful Veteran
https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Medical_Marijuana_Legalization,_Amendment_2_(2016) Ballotpedia. 2016. “Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization.” http://ballotpedia.org
Catching Up with Alexis Bortell
Updates on the federal lawsuit
Right now, our case is at the Second Circuit of Appeals, where we won–but the Court has directed us to file a de-scheduling petition with the DEA by the end of the year. The problem is that the DEA has already gone on record that it cannot deschedule cannabis; rather, the DEA is claiming that it can only reclassify cannabis under Schedule II, which would be terrible. Reclassification to Schedule II would likely render all state-legal programs non-compliant under the Controlled Substances Act and thus illegal. All cannabis medications would be subjected to a new regulatory review process with the federal government, raising barriers to access, including reduced supply and substantially increased costs. So, we are moving to extend the time to file the petition until we can file another lawsuit – this one, against the DEA to challenge its conclusion that it cannot deschedule cannabis. Remember, I’m not suing to reschedule cannabis. I’m suing so me and other cannabis patients have the same liberties and freedoms as people who don’t need to or choose not to consume cannabis. Right now, we don’t.
Recent EEG test results
They were borderline normal, and I hope to get my driving permit in the near future! What is borderline? If I wasn’t diagnosed with epilepsy they would probably send me to a neurologist for a checkup, but since I used to be much worse, this is a “good” result. THC still helps, and I couldn’t imagine my life if I didn’t have it or only had CBD. It would be a disaster or more likely, I wouldn’t still be here.
Hearing Back from Elon Musk
(Alexis mailed a letter to Elon Musk written on our magazine!)
Nothing yet, but he is an important and busy guy, so I doubt he even knows who I am. I really think I can help them make autopilot better for people like me with epilepsy. The Tesla autopilot will pull over to the side of the road and turn on the hazard lights if someone falls asleep so I think we could make it pull over if the driver has a seizure. I’m not just talking to Elon Musk. I will help any car company that needs it. It could help MANY epilepsy patients be a little more independent, and that’s my goal.
(Tesla autopilot does not currently pull to the side of the road, but will bring the vehicle to a stop in the lane that it is in, and turn on the hazard lights.)
This winter I’m working on two projects. The first is in Tennessee. About a month ago, I received an official invitation from the chairman of the TN House Health Committee Rep. Bryan Terry, MD to testify after January 1st. This is a great opportunity, and I have asked my legal team lead Michael Hiller to help make it happen. If cannabis is a “States Right” issue, then the TN Governor Bill Lee and the Colorado Governor, Jared Polis, should be able to work together and get me and my medicine into the TN capitol without federal help. If not, I need to go back to court and explain to them that my situation proves cannabis is not a State’s Rights issue.
The second project is my Washington, DC trip with my 8th grade classmates. This is a trip all students in our school take during their 8th grade year but it looks like I’m not going to be able to go because of federal cannabis laws. This is not okay with me and I am planning to ask the courts to help.
Either way, if I am ever going to have equal liberty to other kids in my class, I’m going to have to fight the government for it in court. I’ll never accept that me and other cannabis patients should be less free because we need cannabis to live. I’ll fight them all the way to The Supreme Court if I have to.
How you can support
This winter, our goal is to get a greenhouse to extend our growing season. We haven’t reached our goal yet but a couple of organizations have been helpful getting us closer. If people want to help, they can donate here: http://donate.oneluvorganics.com. The greenhouse will help us grow organic vegetables year-round instead of just in the summer which will help us donate more organic food to charity groups like Tri-Lakes Cares in Monument, CO and The Marion House in Colorado Springs. These groups help us make sure our food makes it to families in need through our “Patches of Hope” (TM Trademark) program.