In honor of May being National Military Appreciation Month, we are highlighting some of our favorite veteran-focused cannabis organizations. These groups have had boots on the ground all around the United States and beyond, doing the dirty work to ensure that veterans have access to safe, clean medicine and pushing the VA to expand that access at every opportunity. In our first installment, we talked with Aaron Newsom, co-founder and COO of Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance.
What is the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance?
Aaron: The Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance (SCVA) was founded in 2011 by Jason Sweatt (US Army) and Aaron Newsom (US Marine Corps), both of whom are military veterans. The founders initially cultivated for their own medical use and recognized the potential benefits of medical cannabis for other veterans. To meet this need, SCVA established its Veterans Compassion Program (VCP).
What are the main initiatives that you’re looking to accomplish for veterans?
Aaron: The organization’s core mission is to provide safe access to high-quality, lab-tested cannabis for all Californians, and give back a portion to the veteran community. We have accomplished this every single month since 2011. The Veterans Compassion Program convenes twice a month at their dispensaries in Santa Cruz County, where around 150 military veterans receive medicinal cannabis free of charge every month.
How can new members get involved?
Aaron: Any veteran who is in the Santa Cruz area and has a medical cannabis card can qualify for free cannabis at our dispensaries on the first and third Monday of every month. Contact the SCVA dispensary for more information at: (831)-431-6347.
For veterans interested in participating, Cultivate Aptos is located at 7887 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA 95003 and Cultivate Watsonville is located at 274 Kearney St, Watsonville, California 95076.
What about for non-military members looking to support the group?
Every purchase of an SCVA product helps us to provide free cannabis for veterans in need. Ask for us at your local dispensary. Purchase with a purpose and thank you for your support!
Any strategic partners/allies of your cause that you want to highlight?
Aaron: We strive to work with other nonprofits to help the community feel heard and appreciated. We would like to highlight the hard work and dedication seen from the Veterans Surf Alliance. They’re a nonprofit that creates fellowship and community among veterans through surfing, easing the transition between military service and civilian living.
They meet in Santa Cruz the last Saturday of every month and in Pacifica every Tuesday, rain or shine. The Central Coast Chapter in Pismo Beach also meets regularly. Members travel from San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and as far away as Sacramento and Fresno, and they meet all over the Northern California coast.
What are the future plans for the group?
Aaron: Our future plans entail continuing to cultivate the highest quality cannabis in California and ensuring longevity for our Veterans Compassion Program. Please support our future endeavors by purchasing SCVA grown products at your local dispensary and if you’re ever in the Aptos or Watsonville.
We want to thank Aaron Newsom from SCVA for giving us a better understanding of their group and the role they play in supporting their fellow veterans daily. Beard Bros have been avid supporters of SCVA and their mission for close to a decade now, and we look forward to watching them grow.
The SCVA’s work represents a valuable contribution to the medical and social needs of veterans, and their efforts exemplify the potential of community-based organizations to provide targeted support for marginalized and underserved populations.
This isn’t the first time you’ve heard us talk about these guys. In case you missed it, you can click HERE to learn even more about Aaron and the crew.
Reach out to them directly on Instagram or at SCVA.US for more information or to get involved.