Cannabis Patient Care - December 2022

Cannabis Patient Care- December 2022

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26 patient focus cannabis patient care | vol. 3 no. 4 A Hero's Journey: Fighting for Medical Cannabis as a Patient, a Veteran, and an Advocate B Y E R I N M C E V O Y A Journey Begins: The Origins of Unprescribed A filmmaker and photographer by trade, Steve Ellmore accepted an offer in 2017 to film a documentary about a veteran-operated cannabis growing operation in the Midwest. While in the military and as a veteran, Ellmore had been presented with a negative image of cannabis. "You get into the military and you're told that it's the devil's weed. It's a career killer. It's everything bad," Ellmore recalled. Despite this, Ellmore decided to begin the project with an open mind and be- gan to learn how veterans were using cannabis to treat post-traumat- ic stress disorder (PTSD). Though that documentary project did not come to fruition in the end, a new seed had been planted in Ellmore's mind: was there more to explore with cannabis as medicine? "The veterans with the grow had convinced me that cannabis was the answer—that cannabis could have prevented me from at- tempting to take my life," he said. "So, I set out to find the real an- swers and talk to veterans." After speaking with the American Legion, Ellmore was direct- ed to the people who would eventually be featured in his new film through a "right place, right time" sequence of events. He spoke with researcher Dr. Sue Sisley, veterans Boone Cutler and Josh- ua Frey, advocate Janine Lutz, Scheril Murray Powell, Esq., and dis- pensary owner Hope Wiseman. The result was a polyphonic story of the state of medical cannabis, veterans, advocates, and the dec- ades-long struggle to access safe, plant-based medicine. "It pulled together a bona fide story of truth in cannabis," said Ellmore. "And we discovered in the story that we've just been lied to. My idea be- hind the film was to make it an advocacy piece to get the American public to change their minds, to get them to convince the lawmak- ers to change the laws, to legalize cannabis. I use the film to say that this is the voice of the veterans, and we're all telling you that we're suffering and the drugs being giving us by the Veterans Af- fairs [VA] are killing us." It took Steve Ellmore three years to make Unprescribed and it was entirely self-funded, self-edited, and self-produced. "The Con- gressional Cannabis Caucus invited me to actually screen the film on Capitol Hill at the Congressional Auditorium," said Ellmore. "I got the audience that I wanted. And then COVID hit." Devastated at this setback when success had been within reach, he shelved the project. "With the anxiety, PTSD, and other things, it shut me down. That was almost my next suicide attempt. I was done. I dissolved my LLC," said Ellmore. Further into the pandemic, he eventually decided to put the film on Amazon Prime Video, and after word spread it started to get the attention Ellmore had hoped for. "That's what drove me back again. Fast forward, we got the nonprofit up and running." The Mission of The Unprescribed The goal of the nonprofit, called The Unprescribed, is educa- tion, influence, and to amplify the voices and stories in the Unprescribed film to save more lives. "The unprescribed are the Content warning: This story contains references to suicide. If you or a loved one need assistance, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24/7 or visit Steve Ellmore, founder of The Unprescribed nonprofit, is a 20-year Air Force veteran and currently works in the public sector helping veterans and their families. An anxiety sufferer, Ellmore also attempted suicide while on active duty, and has experienced traumas such as multiple car accidents, traumatic brain injury, and domestic abuse in addition to being in the military. Cannabis, Ellmore believes, can be the answer for veterans seeking alternative treatments to the opioids and other dangerous medications prescribed to them to treat their mental and physical trauma. These medications have contributed greatly to an epidemic of veteran suicide in the United States. Ellmore's journey as a medical cannabis patient and advocate began with his award-winning 2020 film, Unprescribed, which documents the stories of veterans, cannabis advocacy, and the fight to end veteran suicide. "In their own words," Ellmore said, "this film is the voice of veterans everywhere. We are asking for cannabis." Ellmore's mission is to share the stories of those who, like him, have found healing with cannabis and plant-based medicine.

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