Navy veteran Kate Cochran-Morgan starts her day in her usual way, with a little lawbreaking and a cup of coffee. Morning, she says, is the best time to smoke marijuana.
It’s just a small amount of a medical-grade cannabis of the sort available now or soon in Colorado and 27 other states, but it’s enough to control the pain in her hip and to alleviate depression and anxiety she suffered after leaving the service. It could also net her jail time and a $500 fine in Texas if a police officer ever caught her lighting up.
Cochran-Morgan isn’t happy about that last part, but she’s not hiding her marijuana use either.
“People always ask me if I’m afraid of ‘The Man,’ and I’m like, ‘Who’s this man? Are you going to introduce me to The Man, because I would love to meet this man,’” Cochran-Morgan says. “What I found is that it’s not The Man. It’s fear. It’s just propaganda. And once you get through that fear and start educating people, The Man ceases to exist. That’s all I want to do. I want to help educate people [in the Texas Legislature and beyond]. I want to give them tools to make educated choices, not opinion.”
A successful real estate agent with a home on the outskirts of Dallas, she’s not afraid to discuss her cannabis use because she’s no longer alone. More than 1,600 Texas veterans have stepped out of the shadows to talk about their marijuana use with legislators, the media and anyone else who’ll listen to their harrowing tales of painkiller addiction and suicide. They’re the vanguard of the medical marijuana lobbying effort that’s making battle plans to bring their cause to Texas lawmakers this legislative session. They say they’re tired of being considered criminals when they have no choice but to use marijuana for service-related injuries because the alternatives — painkillers and psychotropic drugs — are killing too many of them.
They’ve come together as part of Operation Trapped, a veteran lobbying movement with connections to two other marijuana lobbying groups, Texas NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project. They’re supporting passage of state Sen. Jose Menendez’s SB 269, which seeks to expand the Texas Compassionate Use Act and allow any Texas resident with a doctor’s recommendation access to medical marijuana.