When Honeysuckle traveled to MJBizConference in Las Vegas for our CANNABIS print issue, we had no idea what incredible stories lay behind the companies at the expo. Fortunately, they were happy to share their experiences with us. We were particularly excited to connect with HARDCAR Security, a California-based company that does important work with veterans in the space. Here’s a glimpse into their mission (and stay tuned for more MJBiz news in our issue)!

Veterans are putting their military training to work in the cannabis industry, particularly for the California-based HARDCAR. More than a security company and leading armored distributor of cannabis, HARDCAR gives veterans a new sense of purpose in their post-combat lives. These professionals returning to civilian life bring what they learned in the military to a booming industry; they are adaptable, flexible, and take on each job as a mission requiring discipline and situational awareness. Now that HARDCAR is expanding from security and transportation to distribution, the company has leveraged the skills of ex-combat experts in the careful and safe moving of cannabis, and its millions in associated cash, across the state.

“Veterans are like ‘instant coffee’, and are the lifeblood of what we do,” says HARDCAR’s CEO Todd Kleperis, who spent time serving in the military himself.

“It can be very difficult to find your place in the world after serving in the military,” says Aaron Augustis, a former Sergeant and Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army, Airborne, who now acts as a consultant and Veteran Services Liaison for HARDCAR.

As reported earlier this year in Green Market Report, Augustis turned to cannabis after finding that he was having uncontrollable waves of emotions and being haunted by reflections from his experiences during combat service in Iraq. Depressed after his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms led him to quit college, and feeling utterly lost, Augustis found access to legal medical cannabis.

On a cannabinoid regimen, he finally felt able to slow things down in his mind and be more present and stable within his own life. At HARDCAR, Aaron connects the operations of the distribution company with the medical cannabis needs of many like himself. Augustis’s experiences coupled by the insights about the issues facing veterans led him to become a founder of the Veterans Cannabis Group in 2016. This advocacy group acts as a liaison between veterans curious about medical cannabis and Veterans Affairs, ensuring veterans are accessing the benefits they need to treat the symptoms of their PTSD and other service-related injuries.

What’s the Link Between PTSD and Veterans?

When you look at the basic science behind PTSD and cannabis, it makes a lot of sense, especially when you begin to clear up the myths surrounding veterans and cannabis use.Cannabis access advocacy efforts aren’t about getting veterans legally stoned; in fact, many aren’t interested in the high-inducing THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the most commonly known cannabinoid in cannabis. Instead, the power of cannabis for PTSD lies in CBD, or cannabidiol, which is an often-misunderstood component of cannabis and those advocating its wider use.

The science behind CBD-rich cannabis strains is showing the compound’s ability to interrupt signals in the brain related to fear-based memories and the subsequent instinctive responses. People who have had various traumas in their lives, including combat veterans like Augustis, are finding that the brain-altering effects of CBD help them to move on from the crippling experiences of PTSD. Strains that are high in CBD, but low in THC, allow the cannabis user to experience the plant’s medicinal benefits while maintaining a clear head without getting high.

New Opportunities for Veterans’ Employment

Through HARDCAR and the Veterans Cannabis Group, veterans are discovering meaningful ways to use their talents and experiences while having opportunity to serve their country in a new way. Service people who thought they were stuck in the traps of their PTSD and the stigma associated with it are having new life breathed into their careers. A special kind of camaraderie that they only thought they’d find in the military is developed.

Veterans’ unemployment has been a significant issue facing the nation in the post 9/11 years, and was at an all-time high in 2011 at over 12%. Fortunately, recent veterans’ hiring initiatives have made a positive impact on these figures, with unemployment of veterans falling to 3.8% in 2017.Through these initiatives, especially being put to use in the cannabis industry, unemployment and underemployment are being tackled so that veterans can again feel that pride of supporting their families while serving their nation. With the new opportunities provided by HARDCAR, these men and women can also be confident that they are helping their fellow veterans with access to legal cannabis, fighting good battles in a different but very worthy war.

To learn more about HARDCAR’s mission, visit hardcarsecurity.com or follow them on Twitter.