MIGHTY CULTURE

How this combat Marine kicked his painkiller addiction

You'd be hard-pressed to find a combat Marine or Soldier who doesn't have wear-and-tear injuries from their deployments and training. U.S. Marine veteran Scot Knutson is no different, but it was during his tenure in Explosive Ordinance Disposal where he received his most significant injuries.

In 2012, blast exposure from IEDs gave Knutson a concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal stenosis (compression in the spine), and pulmonary edema caused by trauma to the lungs. When he returned home from his deployment in 2013, he was placed on a non-deployment status to heal — and he was given Oxycodone for the pain.

Like many veterans, Knutson developed an opioid addiction until he was finally hospitalized in 2017 after an overdose.

He received a 30-day in-patient treatment program followed by a 60-day out-patient program to help detox, but he credits THC and CBD products for helping him remain off narcotics ever since.


CBD Treatment Program

"Start low. Start slow." That's the advice Knutson has for anyone looking into medicinal cannabis to help treat pain and PTSD. As a Federal Schedule 1 controlled substance, many doctors are prohibited from recommending CBD or THC to patients.

As states begin to decriminalize marijuana, more and more people are gaining access to medicinal strains, but anyone who has jumped right in to an edible knows they can be potent.

When Knutson began his CBD program, he'd been prescribed Ambien for sleep and Prazosin for PTSD-related nightmares. With proper timing and dosage of CBD, along with occasional microdosing of THC, Knutson no longer needed the Ambien for sleep (though the Prazosin, which is non habit-forming and a non-narcotic, continues to help with nightmares, a common side-effect of PTSD).

There really is a difference between the marijuana trips of 70s and the use of medicinal cannabis today. For Knutson, THC in the form of a liquid deliverable (for example, in a sparkling water) will begin to treat pain in 10 minutes. The same dose (5-10mg) in an edible might take 1-2 hours to provide relief.

As for vaping or smoking, Knutson avoids them altogether to protect his lungs.

The Cannabis Industry

Knutson Brothers - (Left) Scot, retired Marine and Keef VP of Operations, (Middle) Kelly, co-founder, (Right) Erik, co-founder and CEO.

Knutson's transition into a career in the cannabis industry was a slow one. His brother started a cannabis company in 2010 (ironically around the time Knutson was getting his Top Secret clearance background check...) but it wasn't until after he separated from the Marine Corps in 2014 that he decided to join the industry professionally.

He now helps lead a thriving and award-winning cannabis company, Keef Brands, which is designed with the health-conscious consumer in mind. Through his company, he's been able to help place other veterans into jobs and security positions within the industry.

When I asked how the Department of Veterans Affairs can better accommodate the needs of veterans, Knutson was pretty straight-forward: "Cannabis needs to come out of the shadows and be talked about so there can be education about how to properly use it. It'd be helpful if the VA would be able to talk about it with veterans so they could receive the treatment they need — and also so they can prevent abuse."