The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1263 in Renton is a community hub for many veterans and their families. Former Post Commander Josh Schreck, said fundraisers like the Poppy Drive in which community members donate money in exchange for poppy flowers, a symbol of military remembrance, are vital for raising money for the veteran relief fund.
Schreck says the veteran relief fund is used to provide much needed financial assistance like helping to pay rent or utilities bills to local veterans, their families, military widows and orphans who have all made sacrifices to the armed services.
Typically, poppy drives would be held at the entrance of a grocery store where pasing customers could stop and make a contribution before or after shopping. However, the pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on public gatherings made the VFW’s traditional grocery partners reluctant to host the events.
In need of a venue to host the important fundraising events, Schreck and the folks at VFW 1263 reached out to a couple of local cannabis dispensaries in Renton. Buddy’s Cannabis on 420 Sunset Blvd. was eager to help.
“They stepped up when no one else would,” Schreck said.
Owner of Buddy’s Cannabis, Myles Harlow Kahn, said the company had been involved in other fundraising events for veterans, but the opportunity to work with the local VFW provided an opportunity to do events that would help local veterans in Renton was “perfect timing.”
Buddy’s Cannabis hosted poppy drives every Saturday for several months during the pandemic. The business even offered to match the donations made to the veteran’s who would greet customers at the door with a smile.
“Customers found it welcoming,” Harlow Kahn said.
Between November and April, weekly poppy drives were able to raise nearly $9,000.
Harlow Kahn was honored by Schreck and the VFW 1263 for his efforts in support of veterans in the community with a special award.
Even though marijuana is federally illegal and frowned upon in the serving military community, Harlow Kahn said veterans have an affinity for cannabis for both recreational and therapeutic use. Buddy’s offers veteran’s discounts, which allow them to quantify the amount of veterans that are part of their clientele.
Marijuana is still classified as a schedule one drug by the federal government, meaning research on its efficacy as medicine is limited.
Schreck said there is a piece of federal legislation being considered by Congress currently that would allow for more medical research to determine the efficacy of using cannabis to treat veteren-specific ailments such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Schreck pointed out that currently, opioid prescriptions are a common treatment for pain in the veteran community. He believes the willingness to prescribe opioids without alternatives can contribute to dangerous opioid dependency.