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Philly420: Marijuana at the Philly Veterans Day parade

Going green for our troops has another important meaning. Cannabis has shown to be an important alternative therapy for PTSD and a safer replacement for pain medication like opioids.

Philadelphia will hold the city's first Veteran's Day Parade on Sunday November 8, 2015. U.S. Marine Corps vet Mike Whiter will be there to share information about marijuana and his personal story of how the plant changed his life for the better.

"We've been quiet for too long," said Whiter, "Do people know that 22 veterans die by suicide every day in this country?"

Earlier this year Whiter, now a photographer living in South Philly, started a series of portraits called #OperationOvermed. Featuring veterans holding marijuana buds and empty pill bottles Whiter's aim is to raise awareness for what he sees as a solution to a devastating set of problems.

"Most people outside of the veteran community don't know that marijuana can help," Whiter said.

Joining Whiter this week are a group of vets from the Weed for Warriors project. They have been traveling across the country and will end up in Washington D.C. on Nov. 11th.

Earlier this year, we covered cannabis, vets and PTSD here at Philly420. That story highlighted the work of Dr. Sue Sisley who is about to begin the first comprehensive study of cannabis therapy for veterans.

Sisley joins a growing group of physicians and researchers who are looking at the issue.

Over-prescription of pharmaceutical medications is not just a problem among vets. The country is coming to a realization that the chronic use of opiate painkillers like oxycontin has led to soaring overdose rates and a massive heroin problem

Last year Dr. Michael Bachhuber MD, the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, found that painkiller overdose deaths are 25 percent lower in states with medical marijuana. The study did not include New Jersey because the Garden State's program because pain is not a qualifying condition and it is too restrictive to allow easy access.

Whiter has been a longtime and passionate marijuana reform activist. He received the city's first decriminalization citation in October 2014 at City Hall.

"We will protest at the end of the route," said Whiter, "We will inform and educate the people about the suicide rate among veterans and about medical marijuana as a vital treatment for our returning soldiers."

Chris Goldstein is associate editor of Freedom Leaf magazine and on the board of PhillyNorml. Contact him at