First Louisiana veteran to receive approved marijuana treatment on Tuesday

Gary Hess, Brianna Hardy, and their son.
Gary Hess, Brianna Hardy, and their son.(Gary Hess)
Updated: Aug. 2, 2019 at 10:37 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - For the first time since the legislature approved the idea in 2015, Louisianans will have access to marijuana medicine on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Pharmacists at Capitol Wellness Solutions, the capital region’s only licensed marijuana pharmacy, have already selected the first patients to receive medicine. Because of its proximity to the state’s grower, Capitol’s patients will be the first in the state to receive an approved dose of marijuana.

Gary Hess, a Marine, is slated to become the first veteran in Louisiana to get a legal dose of the drug.

“Depression, anxiety, insomnia,” Hess said, listing some of the symptoms that stem from his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Someone who’s very secluded, isolated, and unsocial.”

Gary Hess, Brianna Hardy, and their son.
Gary Hess, Brianna Hardy, and their son.(Gary Hess)

“But at times, able to put a decent game together and convince everyone that we’re good and everything is okay," he said.

The bad times drove his partner, Brianna Hardy, away on more than one occasion.

“I always loved him,” she said. “But there were times when I told him I can’t stand by anymore if things don’t change.”

Hardy says she was scared to trigger Hess’ PTSD by bringing up his illness. The couple says they avoided the conversations they needed to have about Hess’ condition.

“There was zero communication about anything of substance,” Hess said.

“I kept hanging on, hanging on, hanging on,” Hardy responded. “But I didn’t know where to look either.”

Hess made a last-ditch effort to find a therapist at the VA.

“I wanted her in my life, I needed her in my life, and the only way it was going to change is if I sought some kind of help,” he said. “Maybe it’s divine intervention, but I made a phone call and I went and sat with someone and someone spoke to me and it made sense.”

Hess says he began a path to treatment and asked Hardy for one last chance.

At some point, Hess tried CBD oil, a cousin to marijuana with purported health benefits. It cannot get a user high. He noticed immediate results.

On a trip to San Diego, he tried medical marijuana for the first time.

Gary Hess and Brianna Hardy
Gary Hess and Brianna Hardy(Gary Hess)

“I didn’t know this side of him existed,” Hardy said of her partner’s behavior after using the medication. “[He’s] always been a wonderful, good person, but the stability... the consistency.”

Hess and Hardy have been engaged in a common law marriage for three years now. They have two sons, ages 3 and 11 weeks.

“He’ll do whatever it takes to get to a better place within our family,” Hardy said.

Now, the couple wants to help defeat the stigma they say is keeping other veterans from trying the medicine.

“The spouse’s perspective is the way inside the home,” Hess said. “This is what the medical marijuana community looks like.”

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