Senior citizens among the crowd at a medical marijuana outreach event

I was skimming through the entirety of my medical marijuana series of posts and thought that it must seem to some readers, like I’m getting swept up in some kind of revival movement. I guess  maybe I am.

It’s hard not to feel like you’re a part of something much bigger than yourself when you interview people in the medical marijuana caregiver/patient community and attend their events. Story after story of miraculous health turnarounds and outcomes. Lives saved; quality of lives improved.

New faces always welcomed.

Each story seems to fuel and grow the community, spurring patients and caregivers alike to be proactive about spreading the message of the many healing properties of medical marijuana. It spurs them to lobby government and petition government. It spurs them to do outreach and education.

Last Thursday night I had a chance to catch an outreach and education event hosted by at the American Legion Hall in Rumford. I was a little late coming in so I didn’t do an exact head count, but the crowd of somewhere between 50-100 people took me by surprise. Seniors made up a significant portion of the audience, and all audience members were quite engaged with the panel of presenters, including:

The Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine (MMCM)— Catherine Lewis

Integr8 — Dr. Dustin Sulak

Canna Care Docs — Jenna McDonald

New England Veteran’s Alliance — Sean Judge/Kevin Bettis, along with several others

Sharing of stories, experiences and Q&A

Front L to R - Brandon Kaschel, Don Hammond, Sean Judge, Kevin Bettis.  Back L to R - Derek Cloutier, Mike Rementer, Kim Printy, Catherine Lewis, Shanna Souza, Jenna McDonald, Andy Kingsley.  Photo by Trish Callahan

Front L to R – Brandon Kaschel, Don Hammond, Sean Judge, Kevin Bettis. Back L to R – Derek Cloutier, Mike Rementer, Kim Printy, Catherine Lewis, Shanna Souza, Jenna McDonald, Andy Kingsley. Photo by Trish Callahan

Integr8 is described on the website as Leaders in Medical Cannabis and Integrative Medicine. Dr. Dustin Sulak runs the practice and gave an informative presentation that covered just about every aspect of medical marijuana from the most basics about the human body’s endocannabinoid system to the science behind the numerous ailments that can be treated by a variety of strains of and products derived from medical marijuana.

Many members of the audience seemed new to the idea of medical marijuana and frequently interacted with Sulak during his presentation. It had the feel of a college class, and the audience was receptive, especially as pertaining to medical marijuana’s potential for reduced and/or eliminated use of prescription opiates and/or treating addiction. Sulak also runs a lab that tests medical marijuana for product dosing, so he was able to speak to that science as well.

Catherine Lewis of MMCM is always an articulate advocate for medical marijuana and the community. I like to think of her as the community’s hostess. Whenever she speaks, she is welcoming, knowledgeable and full of updates about developments in the movement. Lewis, like the community at large, is focused on the role medical marijuana can play in treating addiction and reducing opiate use.

Jenna McDonald, manager of Canna Care Docs shared her own personal journey using medical marijuana and information about the Canna Care practice. It focuses primarily on supporting patients in gaining their certification to use medical marijuana, including special outreach to veterans.

The New England Veterans Alliance spokespeople Sean Judge and Kevin Bettis talked about their newly developed (2015) organization and its mission to improve access to medical marijuana for veterans who can be penalized by the Veterans Administration for its use. They talked about how critical medical marijuana is to their ability to treat their physical and psychological traumas, and at times, spoke directly to veterans in the audience.

NEVA even had a door prize that could only be won by a veteran.

I had a chance to speak to the NEVA members after the event, and like my previous interviews with veterans, they all talked about a quality of life using medical marijuana that they did not have using prescription opiates and other pharmacological interventions. A few of these veterans are fathers, and are passionate about being good dads who are present for and involved with their children.

Veterans Andy Kingsley and Derek Cloutier talked about the night and day difference between parenting on medical marijuana vs. on prescription opiates and other drugs. Kingsley is parenting alone and knew he couldn’t do that on opiates, which were a trigger for him. On opiates he said he was angry and threatening, which are things he didn’t want to be as a single dad.

Like the larger group that evening, NEVA members have a touch of revival spirit, too. Their entire mission is about outreach, advocacy, stigma reduction, empowerment, peer support, and resource sharing. Brandon Kaschel talked about finding purpose through joining the alliance, as well as a network of peers who have a shared understanding of the challenges veterans face.

Listening to these heros talk about their service and all they’ve had to overcome to be the happy, stable community members they are, it’s hard not to catch that revival spirit. The healed and the healers spreading the word about healing.


New England Veterans Alliance can be reached at:

Information about other educational events can be found on the MMCM website — click here. Email MMCM for information/support at: or call:  207-596-3501.

For information about Canna Care  Docs go to or call 207-286-9000.

Much of the information provided by Dr. Sulak can be found at, which offers free education about medical marijuana.

Don Hammond and friends of handed out samples of a salve that is AWESOME and can be used for a number of things. Thanks to Peter “Rubberneck” Gallant for the salve and the wonderful conversation!

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.