Two years ago Ryan Kohrig retired from the military. “It wasn’t easy.” He told me. His tone grew nostalgic and he began his story.
Like a quarter of U.S veterans, Ryan suffers from PTSD. After two and half decades of military service and multiple combat deployments reintegrating into society was difficult for him. Daily trivial tasks that he knew he could do became a struggle. Sudden movements or sounds could easily startle him and leave him frustrated.
“My hearing was so amplified, any sudden noise had the potential to throw me off, even if it was coming from my neighbor’s apartment,” Ryan told me. “I felt like I could hear everything.”
As Ryan’s frustration grew, so did his anxiety. During the day he would find himself anxiously waiting for what would set him off next. He became extremely irritable, and in his own words, “hard to deal with.” At night his anxiety would take the shape of insomnia.“Usually sleeping only 3 hours or less.” His wife told me when discussing the first months of their relationship. “In the beginning, he would wake me up when he woke up just to talk. I thought it was cute at first. But then as it became a normal thing, he stopped waking me up and would just go into the other room. I guess he knew I needed my sleep.”
In an attempt to cope with his PTSD, anxiety, and insomnia he did what any veteran would do and sought help from the VA.
At first, the VA prescribed Ryan with sleeping pills, which he admits worked for sleeping but, come morning, left him groggy and even more anxious than before. So he went back to VA. Again and again. Each time trying out different medications and to my surprise, different doctors. “I never had the same doctor, so I kept having to retell my story every time I went in.”
Ryan explained to me how disheartening this was for him. The VA’s one size fits all approach made it impossible for him to ever develop a meaningful relationship with a doctor, which can be essential for those, like Ryan, with chronic illness. By not having one primary care physician, Ryan was left unable to manage the intricacies of his health and improve his quality of life. He needed help the VA couldn’t offer; medical help tailored to him.
Luckily, Ryan was able to find the help he needed. But unfortunately, it came at the price of hitting rock bottom.
The VA finally decided Ryan’s treatment plan would consist of a cocktail of sleeping pills and Adderall. Consequently, initiating Ryan’s downward spiral. He needed one pill to go to bed, and another to stay awake. Along with this prescribed cocktail, Ryan began drinking others. Most often at bars late at night. This led him to spend hours on end playing pool.
“Pool is a lot like being in combat. I think that’s what I liked about it. The precision, the focus, it all felt familiar and I was good at it.” Ryan quickly became obsessed with the familiarity playing pool would bring. In days he went from casually drinking and playing pool to heavy drinking and competing at high stakes. At his peak, he was competing in 5 different counties in 3 different states (Indiana, Illinois, & Wisconsin). He told me in all honesty, “I don’t really remember this time in my life well. I was drinking so much. It’s all a blur.” He insisted I ask his wife, Lindsey, to fill in the blanks, which I did. To no surprise, she explained to me simply “He was depressed.” This was Ryan’s rock bottom and like every great story the beginning of his next chapter.
When Ryan officially retired from the military, he knew it was time to get out of Chicago and change his clocks from military to island time. So in 2018, he and his wife pulled the trigger on their long time dream and moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands. They were only in St. Croix for a few weeks when Ryan encountered a stranger at the gym who would end up changing his life forever. Ultimately, turning their retirement plan into a new career.
“We got to talking about my PTSD, anxiety, and insomnia and how I had just moved here. He mentioned something about CBD, and gave me some to try. I had never used cannabis before and was just shocked by the results. I couldn’t believe something so small could make such a big impact on me.”
After his first use, Ryan stopped taking his medications all together, and began administering CBD oil to himself a couple of times a day. After one week of this, he decided to tell his wife about what he’d been doing.
“I was just happy he was happy. I never thought anything negative of it.” Lindsey told me.
Ryan’s excitement over CBD turned into curiosity. He began wondering what exactly he was ingesting, and where he could find the cleanest and safest version. He knew the answer was probably not from a stranger at the gym. So he began extensive research online into clean and safe CBD products and certifications. It was then when he decided to take one of medical marijuana 411’s Cannabis courses. A few clicks later he came up with the idea for “The Remedy.” A 3rd party tested CBD dispensary.
When I asked Ryan what it was like to transistor from two seemingly contrasting industry’s, he told me
“I owe everything to the military…including the success of my cannabis business.”
He went on to explain to me how, although it was the more questionable decisions in his young adult life that led him to enlist at 18, the value of the military was beyond question. Ryan was a Marine for nearly 25 years. He spent 18 months on two back-to-back tours devoted his life to serving his country and in turn, he acquired a unique professional skill set. An arsenal made up of focus, communication, leadership, precision, and above all else determination.
The Remedy opened its doors in July of 2019, and so far Ryan and Lindsey have been welcomed with nothing but open arms from the people of St. Croix and the cannabis community.
Ryan lights up when he talks about the people he has helped and his happiness for them is infectious. By the end of our interview, he was texting me screenshots of conversations with his most satisfied clients. His determination to expose the benefits of CBD and the cleanest products to the world is palpable in his voice and The Remedy’s mission statement.
However, the community most reluctant to accept Ryan’s remedy happens to be the one that matters the most to him.
As cannabis accessibility in America continues to grow, with two-thirds of Americans having access to medical marijuana, and a quarter having access to recreational, many traditional anti-cannabis institutions, like the military, continue to denounce the plant. In June of 2020, the department of defense announced that U.S. troops could be punished for using any product containing hemp or cannabidiol.
Fortunately for Ryan and other military men and women, this was met with great opposition. The order from the DOD to prohibit all U.S troops from using CBD was in effect for only a month. By the end of July 2020, Congress approved the allowance of any CBD products to all military service members. Officially allowing Ryan to leverage his military network to provide them with the products and help they need.
But still, the question remains when will federal institutions no longer put up a fight with Cannabis?
We see it nearly everywhere in our schools, our prisons, and our healthcare. The fight to stop stigmatizing Cannabis is far from over. But having the military, and Ryan specifically, on our side is one great step in the right direction and will remain a precedent moving forward.
No one is more excited to better the lives of those who serve our country through the remedy that is CBD than Ryan Kohrig.
Our interview fell within days of the DOD announcing its plans to take punitive measures against CBD, and during it, there was no stronger sense of his determination than when he spoke about getting it in the hands of military men and women.
“These are the people who need it the most.” He enlightened me.
His feelings, he told me, are reciprocated. He receives emails, phone calls, Facebook and Instagram DMs, on a weekly basis from military members both active and retired, wanting to hear his story and tell their own. But above all else wanting to try CBD.
“I owe everything to the military…including the success of my cannabis business.”
These are the words that echo in my head as I write this story.
Ryan’s voice is tender but confident. He has a faint Chicago accent. Never rushes to speak. He’s careful and calculated with his words and how he uses them. But after hearing his story, when he told me he owed everything to the military, I questioned him. I pointed out the irony. But now that it’s gone I smile at his opportunity and the countless lives I know he will better.
After all, Ryan’s purpose in this world is to serve those who are unable to serve themselves. In fewer words, Ryan is a remedy.
Carly King is a creative storyteller currently writing patient and character driven articles for MM411, and managing our brand voice. Carly has a profesional background in copy writing, experiential marketing, and project management. Her fascination with the ways in which brands choose to tell their stories to the world drives her to work across many industries and mediums. At only 23 years old, she has already worked with large brands including Citi Bank, the Today Show, and Boeing. As well as smaller unique brands and artist on social media campaigns.
How Carly chooses to tell her own stories is most notably through music and lyrics. She spends the winter months in Jackson WY as a musician, performing and recording her original music. Through this she has gained a unique insight into the dynamic between an experience and its audience, which she is able to apply to her brand work
Besides music, the greatest joys of Carly’s life can be found spending time with her family and friends in the out of doors. Weather it be snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing, paddle boarding or simply laying on the beach. It’s this love for the great outdoors that brought her thousands of miles away from her hometown of Princeton, New Jersey, to Colorado for college. As a university of Denver student, she was able to experience and be educated in the growth of the cannabis industry in Colorado. Carly has found not only benefits in the plant it self but also in the community and culture that surrounds the industry.
She looks forward to the future of Cannabis and MM411, and in her role within both.