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On Veterans Day, Spotlighting Veterans in Cannabis

Nov. 11 was first recognized in 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation commemorating the date as Armistice Day, recognizing the end of fighting between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I. In 1938, Armistice Day was officially made a federal holiday; in 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, Congress officially changed the day to Veterans Day and proclaimed it a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

At Goodness Growth Holdings, veterans are close to our mission. Our founder, President and CEO Kyle Kingsley, MD, started Goodness Growth Holdings after seeing firsthand how several patients were able to achieve relief from pain and symptoms with greatly reduced symptoms using cannabis – chief among them a Gulf War veteran who suffered from chronic pain after suffering a gunshot wound and spinal cord injury. That veteran was initially prescribed opioids, but experienced significant side effects from them. With cannabis, he was able to find relief without the side effects, greatly improving his quality of life.

At Goodness Growth, we are proud to employ numerous veterans and to work with veterans’ organizations like AMVETS. Several of our team members, including our CMO, Stephen Dahmer, MD, and our Senior Director of Clinical Science and Partnerships, Paloma Lehfeldt, MD, have recently appeared on AMVETS’s new podcast, Canna Chat, to discuss how cannabis can benefit veterans and the barriers that remain to their access.

Vireo is proud to also offer year-round compassion discounts to our patients who are Veterans and offer special discounts around Veterans Day, Memorial Day and other times when the country stops to honor the men and women of our armed forces.

Among the veterans on our team is Russell Claude Murphy, Jr. Russell is our Maryland Transportation Supervisor, and is also a cannabis medical card holder. After getting sick in 2010, Russell’s doctors suggested he take medical cannabis. However, because of his job at the time, Russell could not take cannabis – but he could take other prescriptions medications that were more dangerous and addictive.

Russell sat down with us to talk about his time in the U.S. Navy and what it’s like working in the cannabis industry.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live now? 

My name is Russell Claude Murphy, Jr. I currently live in Hurlock, MD, but I was born in Crisfield, MD. I moved to Seaford, DE at the age of eight due to my dad’s work location and ended up graduating from there.

What branch of the armed services did you serve in and what was your rank?

Upon graduation, I enlisted in the United States Navy. I served from 1981-1986 with the U.S. Navy Seabees. I was involved with many construction jobs while in the Bees. It was a lifesaving choice, as I grew up and matured very quickly.

What was your experience being in the armed forces?

I did not see any action like they do today and consider myself very lucky. The only conflict that took place was the cowardly Beirut bombing of over 250 United States Marines while they slept, and a classmate and friend of mine lost his life. Our detachment went in and cleaned up and bulldozed everything down and expedited everything remaining out.

I saw so many places I never would have gotten to see like Sicily, Spain, Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, San Diego, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Alabama (not in order).

When did you start at Vireo/Green Goods and what is your title?

Upon being honorably discharged as an E-5, I tried my hand at a few jobs that just did not work out. In 1988, I started working for the United Parcel Service (UPS), which is how I came to know about Vireo coming to Hurlock, MD, as my route included delivery to them.

I retired in 2018 after 30 years at UPS and began working for Vireo two months after retirement. I started out as a part-time security guard and three months later went to full-time. While I was full-time, I was involved with inventory weekly, I went on transports, I was the chemical safety officer, and I did whatever else was asked of me. Being a Veteran helped me get my job as a security guard at Vireo and being a Veteran has always been rewarding. I am proud to be a Veteran, and I am proud to have been in the United States Navy Seabees.

What made you interested in the cannabis industry?

I guess I became interested in the cannabis industry because of my curiosity and the information coming out in the news and elsewhere. I grew up in the 1970s, so cannabis was not a total stranger to me, and I remember how it took the edge off. I became sick in 2010 and cannabis was suggested to me by my doctors for years during my sickness, but I just could not go that route due to my job at the time. So, I took more serious and dangerous drugs instead as they were permitted and prescribed. What a difference it has been since retirement and getting my medical cannabis card.

What do you like working about at Vireo?

Working at Vireo is very rewarding, I have found because if you work hard and are a team player you can advance, which the military and my dad also instilled in me. I really enjoy being the Transportation Supervisor for Maryland. I have seen so much growth in the three years I have been here.

What are your favorite activities or hobbies outside work?

Besides working at Vireo, I enjoy spending time with my family. I love being a son, a husband, a father, a brother, a grandfather of two boys, and a friend. I am also a Councilman for the Town of Hurlock and a member of the local American Legion. In my spare time, I love to twist some throttle on my motorcycle.

Anything else you want to share with folks this Veterans Day?

Happy Veterans Day everyone and to all my brothers and sisters in the Armed Forces. Thank a Vet if you get a chance on Nov. 11, fly your flag high, and be proud to be an American.

Thank you, Russell, for taking the time to share your story with us!

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