Medical marijuana: Will Kevin Grimsinger's false stories hurt MMJ campaign for PTSD?

Last week, Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente decried the health department's rejection of a petition to add post traumatic stress order to conditions that can be treated by medical marijuana. Along the way, he specifically cited Kevin Grimsinger, a veteran who'd become the poster child for the campaign. Problem is, Grimsinger wasn't being entirely honest.

In speaking about the PTSD decision on September 22, Vicente said, "We filed this petition on behalf of a soldier who had his legs blown off stepping on a land mine in Afghanistan" -- Kevin Grimsinger. "He receives relief from medical marijuana, and we don't want him to be criminalized for doing so."

This past weekend, however, Denver Post columnist Susan Greene, who'd published a previous piece about Grimsinger, revealed some uncomfortable secrets in "A Veteran [at] War With the Truth." The followup begins like so:

Kevin Grimsinger came forward this summer as a special forces veteran who had lost parts of his legs in Operation Enduring Freedom. I wrote about him in July when he led the movement in Colorado to qualify veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder for medical marijuana.

As it turns out, the double-amputee didn't serve in Afghanistan and wasn't injured by a land mine, as he claimed. Records show his military service ended a decade before he said he was hurt fighting in Kandahar in 2001.

He was, in fact, paralyzed as a civilian in a crash on a mountain road in Southern California where, as he now tells it, he was trying to kill himself.

This information was confirmed by Grimsinger himself, whom Greene quoted as saying, "I wasn't in Kandahar. I didn't trigger a land mine. I'm not laying no guilt trip or anything. But it's just another nail in my coffin. I probably won't make it through this if you write this."

Where's that leave Sensible Colorado's cause of making medical marijuana an approved PTSD treatment? With Dr. Ned Calonge, Colorado's chief medical officer, leaving his post in November in order to become president of The Colorado Trust, Vicente previously expressed hope that Calonge's successor might be more open-minded about expanding the approved treatment list. As he noted, New Mexico has added PTSD to its own medical-marijuana-eligible roster of conditions.

Corresponding via e-mail, Vicente makes it clear that he remains committed to achieving this goal in Colorado even as he confirms that Grimsinger hornswaggled him, too.

Here's his statement:

At Sensible Colorado we are disappointed and surprised by the recent details that have surfaced about Mr. Grimsinger, and we sincerely hope that he finds the help he needs. However, the petition we filed with the Health Department was on behalf of all Colorado veterans and other citizens suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This petition still has great merit, and we hope to work with the Health Department to add PTSD to the list of medical marijuana eligible conditions -- so suffering patients can have access to all reasonable treatment options.

In other words, the argument remains valid even though its original messenger hasn't proven to be.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts