Ardmore Army vet advocates for medical marijuana - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Ardmore Army vet advocates for medical marijuana

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Todd Larkin talks with a customer at Pure Wellness CBD in Ardmore. (KTEN) Todd Larkin talks with a customer at Pure Wellness CBD in Ardmore. (KTEN)
CBD oil products offer the promise of pain relief, but medical marijuana advocates say Oklahoma voters can approve even more potent cannabis-based remedies. (KTEN) CBD oil products offer the promise of pain relief, but medical marijuana advocates say Oklahoma voters can approve even more potent cannabis-based remedies. (KTEN)

Next month, Oklahomans will vote on State Question 788, which would legalize marijuana for medical use.

Now one Ardmore veteran is sharing his story, saying medical marijuana saved his life, and could save many others.

Todd Larkin says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving overseas as a U.S. Army combat officer. He said the disorder was so overwhelming, he fell into the trap of over-medicating.

"It got to the point where I was taking eight medications a day," he said, something he said could have left him highly addicted... or dead.

"From Xanax to oxycodone, a lot of people abuse the heck out of them," Larkin said. "We come home with PTSD, depression... I've had, off the top of my head, five veterans that I served with kill themselves."

Larkin did not want to become a statistic, so he decided to turn to an alternate form of healing: Medical marijuana.

"I saw how much safer and much more effective cannabis works for me and my PTSD than any pharmaceuticals I ever had," he said, noting that he had to travel to Colorado to first try medical marijuana.

The therapy was so successful for Larkin that he opened up his own dispensary for cannabidiol hemp oil, Pure Wellness CBD in Ardmore -- the only shop of its kind in Southern Oklahoma.

"I said, 'That's what it's going to all be about, is educating people and removing that stigma of what cannabis is.'"

CBD oil comes from the marijuana plant, but does not have the psychoactive impact that the THC strain of the plant provides.

Larkin sells everything from CBD-infused brownies to lotions and vapes. It's part of booming industry that is changing the way people treat pain.

"I don't sleep a lot, hardly at all, and that's why we come here,” said retired Army veteran Stormie Kirk.

State law currently provides that cannabis products can contain up to 0.03 percent of THC, but marijuana proponents say that is not enough for it to be effective.

Because THC is more potent and stronger than CBD, many Texoma veterans are calling on lawmakers to legalize THC for medical use.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 30 states, and PTSD is a qualifying condition in 23 of those states.

Texas and Oklahoma are not on that list, but State Question 788 could legalize medical marijuana in the Sooner State if voters approve the measure in a June 26 election.

Oklahoma state Sen. Frank Simpson (R-District 14) said he sees the benefit to giving service members an alternative for prescription drugs.

"If we can wean some of these people off of opioids and we can provide them a mechanism to deal with their chronic pain and not become addicted to opioids, then that's a good thing that will help many many people in our state," he said. 

But Simpson and other lawmakers also have concerns about State Question 788, also known as the Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative.

"I don't want to see a good program, a good medical marijuana program, just be used to morph into recreational marijuana," Siimpson said.

For veterans, voting for State Question 788 is a no-brainer.

"I'm hoping that it passes, because it’s going to help so many people," Kirk said.

And Larkin is hopeful that legalizing medical marijuana could help kill the opioid epidemic in Oklahoma while offering a fresh start for our nation's heroes.

"It's not fair that we have to fight to gain access to something like this," he said. "Pharmaceuticals aren't the answer; medical marijuana can be the answer."

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