Veterans help sustain life through farming

Veterans to Farmers, a farming nonprofit, is helping veterans reintegrate into civilian life, connect with fellow vets and recover from PTSD, by training them to work in agriculture.

DENVER –  For former servicemembers who take the hydroponics course at Veterans to Farmers (VTF), it’s natural to think about the marijuana crop that generated more than $247 million in revenue for the state of Colorado, where the sale and use of pot is legal.

Rich Murphy, who directs the program, learned about cannabis after working part-time at a Denver head shop in 2003. The store’s owner wanted someone who wouldn’t be uncomfortable during law enforcement checks, and the five-year Air Force veteran fit the bill.

He began to grow marijuana on his own, and along the way met others who did the same—and were advocating for its legalization. Colorado voters legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012, and had already voted for its medical use in 2000.

Eight states and the District of Columbia now have legalized recreational pot, while a total of 29 more allow it for medical purposes.

Murphy’s exposure to the business side of pot was sparked by his stint as a registered caretaker for a family friend, who suffered from multiple sclerosis.

“She wasn’t able to afford the cost, so I grew it for her,” Murphy, who was a caretaker for nine years, explained. “In the end, it was my favorite thing about the plant. You could grow something for someone who was suffering, and you could see the comfort on their face when that was alleviated.”

But well before medical marijuana was part of mainstream policy discussions, Murphy says veterans were aware it made a big difference in the treatment of post-traumatic

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