Freedom Fighter of the Month
September 2010 – Paul Culkin
New Mexico Medical Marijuana Patient’s Group
By Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator
“More Veterans have committed suicide since 2001 than we have lost on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan—each one a tragedy.” Those words, uttered by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Erick Shinseki last October, underscore the crisis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affecting our returning veterans.
New Mexico is the only medical marijuana state with PTSD specifically listed as a qualifying condition in their law (PTSD also qualifies in California under Prop-215’s language that allows physician recommendations “for any other illness for which marijuana provides relief”) and more patients are registered for PTSD in New Mexico than any other condition.
However, Veterans Administration doctors are forbidden from recommending for veterans this state-authorized medicine because of the federal ban on its use. Vets even report being denied their pharmaceutical prescriptions if they test positive for their medical use of cannabis.
Paul Culkin is an Army veteran of Iraq living in New Mexico who decided to do something about it. Like so many others, he found that the drugs prescribed to him by VA doctors left him “a zombie”. He turned to medical cannabis and found it calmed the PTSD without numbing the mind and doping the body and it “made me a father and a husband again.”
Sgt. Culkin leads the New Mexico Medical Marijuana Patient’s Group, a group he formed by networking with other vets through Craigslist after he attended the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Albuquerque last November. Since then he has made local news opposing a proposed state medical marijuana tax and debated Dr. Andrea Bothwell on Fox News Channel’s Fair & Balanced about cannabis for PTSD.
Paul Culkin exemplifies what can happen when committed citizens attend drug reform conferences and take the step of organizing fellow like-minded citizens at the grassroots level. A true Freedom Fighter!