Veterans, Plant Medicines and the War on Drugs with Ian Benouis
When a soldier brings back trauma from the battlefield, there’s no single reliable way to help them integrate back into society. Everybody needs a different approach. For Ian Benouis, he rediscovered the power of plant medicines after his exit from the military and as he was working his way through law school. It led him on a path to introduce other veterans to plant medicines by organizing trips for them and as a lawyer activist working with a number of plant medicine organizations and churches.
Ian experienced the War on Drugs firsthand, from his childhood in Hawaii to his participation in the largest anti-drug military mission in Panama. He shares today about what he learned about the War on Drugs, the power of plant medicines and how he’s trying to bridge the gaps that separate people from each other and from healing.
Ian is a West Point graduate, former US Army officer, Blackhawk helicopter pilot and combat veteran.
He is Patient Number One for the Mission Within which treats special operators with PTSD, TBI and addiction using iboga and toad in Mexico. Ian has been helping wounded veterans for over 7 years.
Ian has moderated numerous veteran’s panels including the MAPS Psychedelic Science conference in 2018 in Austin and the Bufo Congress in 2019 in Mexico City. He has founded an ONAC church chapter which was later returned to the parent church. He is a founder of a Santo Daime church which is the US chapter of a Brazilian government approved church and has founded a number of other medicine churches in the US with his law partner Greg Lake.
Ian participated in Operation Just Cause in the Republic of Panama. This operation was the largest combat operation in US history focused directly on the War on Drugs and was the largest special operations deployment ever conducted. He was a pilot-in-command and his aviation brigade flew more night vision goggle hours than any unit in the military except for the Task Force 160 Special Operations which his unit was ultimately rolled up into when the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California military base was shut down.
Ian grew up in Hawaii in the 1970’s where cannabis was decriminalized and fully integrated in to the culture. He has been healing himself for over 30 years with sacred plants, a spiritual practice, and being a student and practitioner of ethnobotany. Ian was a pharmaceutical representative for Pfizer after he got out of the Army witnessing firsthand the meteoric rise of the SSRI’s and synthetic opioids in the early 1990’s.
He is a casualty of the drug war having been arrested for cannabis while in law school. Ian is an intellectual property attorney who has been working in the corporate world for over 20 years in the primary roles of VP of Sales and Marketing and General Counsel. He is a political activist in the cannabis and natural plant medicine space nationally and locally in Texas. Ian was previously the Chairman of the Board for a public policy foundation in Texas for over seven years.
Ian was featured in the Spike Jonze produced episode Stoned Vets on Weediquette the cannabis focused series on Viceland on HBO with a number of other veterans protesting the VA’s policy on medical cannabis and trying to end the veteran suicide epidemic.
In 2016 Ian organized a trip for six veterans with PTSD to Peru in May for a 10-day plant diet including ayahuasca and other plant medicines with three Shipibo trained shaman brothers that are third generation plant medicine healers. Ian also took some of the same veterans to Mexico for treatment with iboga and 5-Meo-DMT. This experience was captured on video and was released as a documentary in March 2017 entitled Soldiers of the Vine.
He is member of the team supporting the movie From Shock to Awe a feature-length documentary that chronicles the journeys of military veterans as they seek relief from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with the help of ayahuasca, MDMA and cannabis. This movie premiered at the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona, AZ on June 2, 2018 where it captured the inaugural Mangurama Award for Conscious Documentary Storytelling.
Ian Benouis’ Drug War Story as part of Psymposia’s Drug War Stories – Catharsis on the Mall: A Vigil for Healing the Drug War. This was part of the Drug Policy Reform Conference November 20, 2016 in Washington, DC.
One thought on “Veterans, Plant Medicines and the War on Drugs with Ian Benouis”
Great. I was going to send you all the info, but looks like you already saw it.
Here’s the two links I usually use: YouTube: https://youtu.be/V7amMUG9R40 LibSyn: https://thelexfiles.libsyn.com/veterans-plant-medicines-and-the-war-on-drugs-with-ian-benouis
Thanks again for everything Ian. I’ve already had some friends reach out and say how much they appreciate it. Much love brother, – lex
************* *Lex Pelger * – writer, scientist & Shulginist Host of The Lex Files podcast & author of the Moby-Dick pot books Follow on Twitter or join the No Nonsense! Newsletter he/his