The Characters


Matt and Aimee“I went into him deploying thinking PTSD was inevitable, but I didn’t know what that really meant.”

Aimee Kahl met her husband Matt in the summer of 1994, when they and a group of fellow students from high school French class spent the summer in Europe.

The two North Carolina natives quickly became close friends, even living together as roommates for a time and attending the same college. In 2003 their friendship formally blossomed into romance; their first son was born soon afterwards. By 2007, they were married, and in 2008 he had deployed to Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division.

When he returned home the first time, in March of 2009, Kahl thought everything was good with her husband. But by the fall, she noticed him detaching and withdrawing.

Something was wrong

“I knew something was wrong. But I also knew that there was no way to talk about it,” she recalls. “That was a very big thing that I found in military life, that they make it sound like you can talk about [PTSD] and you can do all these things and what to look for.

“They tell you what to look for but they don’t tell you what to do about it. So I didn’t know what to do about it.”

She wanted at the very least to understand what her husband had gone through. “He had taken hundreds of pictures and videos—and there was some scary shit in there—and I begged him to let me see it, to see what he’d been through, to relate on some level to the atrocities and the horror he’d been through and dealt with.” But as she quickly learned, “It’s impossible to understand, to know how deep the pain goes and how much it hurts.”

In the meantime, the military was prescribing Matt countless pills, which left him zombie-like. The depressions and triggers continued, and that Christmas, Matt tried to take his own life. He survived, but as soon as he could, he returned to his unit and got ready for yet another deployment.

The second time around

By that point Aimee Kahl had withdrawn from her network of support out of fear and worry that his suicide attempt would become widely known. She felt alone and scared. “When he left the second time it was way harder than when he left the first time.”

When he got back home the second time, injured, his PTSD was even worse.

“He completely disappeared,” Kahl says. “It was like he died. It was like he never came home. There was a body there—he was there, physically—but there was nobody home.” Even despite the birth of their second son, she says, he didn’t want to have anything to do with the family.

“I just felt absolutely, terribly alone and helpless and scared and devastated. It was a constant state of fear and mourning, because the man that I loved was just not there and I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was the only person who could help him because no one else knew anything, and I couldn’t ask for help and I couldn’t talk to anybody.”

Indeed, the only advice anyone was willing to offer was that she “get the hell out, because it was a dangerous environment.” But no matter how bad things got with Matt’s PTSD, leaving was never an option.

“I don’t know what kept me there other than the fact that he is my best friend,” she says. “I felt like, would I leave my best friend suffering like this? No. That’s not who I am. So even though he was not being the father or the husband that I needed him to be, he was still my friend, and I couldn’t leave him.”

The shift begins

Once he discharged from the Army, however, Matt did change. He smoked cannabis for the first time.

“As soon as he smoked it,” says Kahl, “it was like this wave came over him of calm and peace and—I won’t say joy, it wasn’t quite there—but it was this…contentment for a moment.” FSTA_JULY_9_2017_202

The contentment underscored a major shift in her husband: he became present and motivated once again, and enthusiastic about both his family and his post-military purpose in life. But he was not 100% healed.

“It was better than it had been but only relatively so, and we both knew there was a lot more work that could be done,” says Kahl. And so Matt chose his next step on his healing journey: ayahuasca.

“I have felt for a while now that Matt needed to do ayahuasca, that it was coming and it was necessary,” Kahl says. She’s scared, and still feels helpless, but at the same she’s determined not to stand in his way, noting that, “Everything he tried previously…all conventional meds, conventional therapy, made it worse.”

More than anything, Kahl just wants him to get better. In meantime, she is continually amazed at the bravery of he and his fellow vets. “They’re brave when they go to war and they’re brave now trying to get better. I admire it very much.

“I want to get better with them because I realize through all of this, I’m not OK.”

In Related News

As The White House Wages War On Legal Marijuana, Veterans Side With Pot


Veterans' Access to Medical Marijuana Hinges on Monday Vote

Will this be the year Congress expands veterans’ access to medical marijuana?

The History of PTSD

Marijuana now available for PTSD sufferers, but problems remain for NH's veterans

Open Your Mind to Healing with Matthew Kahl

New York veterans push for medical marijuana to treat PTSD

Another obstacle hits Arizona study on whether marijuana helps veterans with PTSD

Veteran claims government is reducing his daily dosage of medical marijuana

These 6 groups help vets get access to medical marijuana

For Veterans With PTSD, Medical Marijuana Can Mean a Good Night’s Sleep

MDMA’s Long Strange Trip from Club Drug to Military Medicine

Advocates push for hearings on stalled medical marijuana bills

Colorado lawmakers approve pot for PTSD, with new limits

Johns Hopkins University Dropped Out of a Clinical Trial for Smoked Cannabis, and Veterans With PTSD Want to Know Why

Project SAM Is Pushing the Lie That Cannabis Kills Vets

Sick veterans urge Health Minister to further probe tainted medical marijuana

Veterans fighting to receive medical marijuana treatment in Arkansas

Here Are 25 States Where Marijuana Is Available for PTSD Sufferers

1 man's coast-to-coast mission: Legalize cannabis

Can Cannabis Prevent and Treat Traumatic Brain Injury?

DEA Says Feds Should Grow 1,000 Pounds of Marijuana in 2017

Charlottetown medical marijuana wellness centre opens

DEA Approves MAPS-Sponsored Study of MDMA Combined with Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD

Weed for Warriors Project Provides Support for Veterans

VA docs to be able to recommend marijuana in some states

Associations of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms With Marijuana and Synthetic Cannabis Use Among Young Adult U.S. Veterans: A Pilot Investigation.

Iraq veteran Jake Scallan finds a way out of PTSD through cannabis

Army Veteran Spearheads Medical Pot Effort

This Former Military Cook Uses Medical Marijuana to Help War Vets Fight PTSD

Veterans are on the frontline of the addiction epidemic, medical marijuana movement

Veterans Radio: Episode 41: Thomas Burke on Medical Marijuana

Meet a Former Soldier Who Overcame His Life-Threatening PTSD With MDMA-Therapy

Senate Panel OKs Medical Marijuana for Veterans

Operation Unfolding Flower: Deploying to the Ayahuascan Theater. 10 Veterans take the trip of a lifetime to Peru with 3 Shipibo Shaman Brothers for a 10-day medicinal plant therapy program to treat their PTSD

MDMA May Be Legal for PTSD Therapy in Five Years

Three Military Veterans Explain What Weed Does for Their PTSD

Final Treatments Completed in Phase 2 Trials of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD

Veterans Affairs Hospitals Still Won't Give Veterans Weed

Joe Rogan Experience #782 - Rick Doblin

Scientists Explore the Therapeutic Benefits of Ayahuasca

Medicinal Marijuana Use by Veterans and Law Enforcement

The 420 Radio Show with guest Fabian Henry from Marijuana For Trauma on

The stoned soldiers of Santa Cruz

Medical marijuana use among veterans rising

Veteran's Voice: How Does Marijuana Help Former Soldiers Cope with PTSD?

Vets Turn to Medical Marijuana to Treat Pain and PTSD

Here’s How Medical Marijuana Can Combat America’s Opioid Crisis

Santa Cruz veterans plan cannabis expansion to Monterey County

Use of Medical cannabis makes profound difference in Air Force veteran’s life

Hey Federal Government, Just Give Veterans Medical Marijuana Access Already

Veterans are using pot to ease PTSD, despite scant research

The Mystery of PTSD and the Emerging Understanding of How Psychedelics Can Be Used to Heal Trauma

Why are so many Canadian veterans turning to pot?

Local Vet with PTSD Reacts to Possibility of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana groups say increase in veterans' pot claims no shock

As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Bill would extend medical marijuana protections to vets with PTSD

Ecstasy used to treat PTSD: MDMA could be legal before you think

Marine requests medical marijuana approval

This veteran has spent nearly a decade trying to get the military to change its practices for discharging vets with PTSD

Medical Marijuana and PTSD, a Study of Use and Effects on Military Veterans

Why Aren't American Veterans Allowed to Treat Their PTSD with Medical Marijuana?

Veterans Forced to Look Beyond VA for Medical Marijuana

Combat PTSD with psychedelic drugs? The VA or nonprofit organizations must fund more research now

Marijuana for PTSD: DEA Inspects Johns Hopkins Trial Site

Veteran denied medication due to medical marijuana

How Anti-Cannabis Laws Victimize Vets and Their Families

Veterans on the Front Lines in Fight for Medical Cannabis

Dr. Sue Sisley Pitches Medical Marijuana to Utah’s Politicians

‘Some actual relief’: Illinois veterans seek access to medical cannabis

Lawmakers push VA to let doctors recommend medical marijuana

Editorial: Let pain and PTSD sufferers in Illinois use cannabis

Veterans testify on medical marijuana bill

Veterans work to legalize medical marijuana amid wave of suicides, overdoses

My Experience Drinking Ayahuasca With American War Veterans

Kansas holds children of Colorado veteran who uses medical marijuana

Marijuana for Trauma opens

Agony and ecstasy: the war veterans trying MDMA treatment

Veteran promotes legalization of medical marijuana, Garrett's bill

Pot a lifeline for some ailing Canadian war veterans

War veterans fight to clear stigma around medical marijuana

Veterans & Cannabis: The Critical Role of Access & treatment

Countering the dynamics of dominance: How therapists create safety through egalitarianism in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for women veterans with complex posttraumatic stress disorder

Marijuana Refugees: Wounded Veterans Willing to Move for Medicinal Pot

Dr. Sue Sisley: Cannabis Medical Research is Being Kept in the Dark as Thousands Die Each Year

Ex-JTF2 soldier becomes medical marijuana advocate for veterans

One year later, patients swear by medical pot

Sean Kiernan: "We're the Ones Who Are Blocked" About Treating PTSD with Cannabis

Medical Cannabis for PTSD: Current Evidence and Emerging Research

John Tribe on Iraq, PTSD, & Ayahuasca

A Great Injustice: Veterans and Medical Cannabis Access

A Cure for PTSD?

'Pot Over Pills' Protesters Camp Out For Veterans Day

Senate Approves Funding Bill That Allows Veterans to Access Medical Marijuana

Weed Saved Strung-Out Vet’s Life, but VA Won’t Listen

Behind Bars, Vets With PTSD Face A New War Zone, With Little Support

Military Veterans Fight the VA Over Medical Marijuana

Every Veteran Deserves Legal Access To Medical Marijuana

Care By Design Publishes Survey of Over 620 Patients Undergoing Medical Cannabis Therapy

Guest View: Medical Marijuana Works for PTSD, Gov. Rauner

The Story of Sgt. Will: How Cannabis Helped Save a Veteran’s Life

Meet the Iraq War Veteran Who Says Ecstasy-Assisted Psychotherapy Saved His Life

War veterans suffering from PTSD are using medical marijuana — Here's why

Could Pot Help Veterans With PTSD?

Philly420: Marijuana, PTSD and Pennsylvania

Mark Haden on Using Ecstasy to Treat PTSD

Meet the Man Trying to Use Ayahuasca to Treat PTSD

Utilizing MDMA to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Could ecstasy be a potential treatment for PTSD?

Marijuana Legalization 2015: PTSD And Cannabis — Can Researchers Cut Through The Politics To Find Out Whether Weed Works?

Veterans Can Get All Of These Prescription Drugs To Treat PTSD, But Not Weed


Ayahuasca A Promising Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

White House to Let Researchers Study Medical Marijuana for PTSD

Veterans Can Get All Of These Prescription Drugs To Treat PTSD, But Not Weed

Major Pot Research Barrier Goes Up in Smoke

From street drug to salvation? Early research suggests therapeutic benefits of party drug Ecstasy

Unconventional, Psychedelic Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

How MDMA Could Piece Back Together Lives Shattered in Iraq

Scottsdale doctor seeks veterans for PTSD medical marijuana study

Ex-Marine sees dramatic drop in symptoms after party drug-therapy

MDMA-assisted therapy shows promise for post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans

Scientists are testing MDMA as a PTSD treatment for veterans

Marine-Turned-Researcher Announces New Ayahuasca Study At Psychedelic Event

My Journey Through PTSD Healing With MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy

Why Use MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD?

Nigel McCourry: MDMA has helped those with PTSD

We need your help!

We—and the veterans—are counting on your support to make this film and spread the word about using psychedelic medicines to heal PTSD. Your donation is tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, the non-profit MAPS. Please click the button below and give whatever you can!

WEB & CROWDFUNDING BY awake-logo-2015 Many thanks to visionary artist Cameron Gray for the use of his artwork The Journey Begins' in the title illustration.  

Join our community of supporters and follow the progress of our film.

Join our Mailing List and follow the progress of our film!

You have Successfully Subscribed!