Medical Cannabis Scholar, Advocate and Entrepreneur
Viridiana is a born and raised El Paso Texas native. At the age of 17 she joined the U.S. Army and left for South Carolina for basic training. A few years later in 2009, she received orders to deploy to Kandahar, Afghanistan. In June of 2015, Viridiana received a medical retirement from the U.S. Army after 10 years of service due to injuries that were sustained while serving in Afghanistan from 2009-2010.
Viridiana sought treatment for her injuries with Department of Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, she was prescribed pharmaceutical medications that ended up harming her instead of helping her. Her curiosity led her to find more veterans that were also being harmed by treatment. As a result, she developed a national study on why U.S. veterans were electing to treat their maladies with cannabis in lieu of, or in conjunction with pharmaceutical medication. In 2019 her thesis study titled “The Battle Off the Battlefield: Exploring Medical Cannabis Use Among US Veterans Looking for Relief”, was published with The University of Texas at El Paso as part of her M.A. in Sociology. That same year Viridiana was accepted into the first class, in the nation’s first, Master of Science in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She expects to graduate in May 2021.
Given Texas’ cannabis laws, Edwards was curious why over 70% of her thesis study responses came from Texas veterans. On August 17, 2020, along with Foundation for an Informed Texas, Edwards designed and launched a Texas wide study on medical cannabis use which received over 3,000 responses from veterans, civilians, and individuals who left Texas for another state which has a less restrictive medical cannabis program. This data will be shared with Texas legislators for the 2021 Texas 87th Legislative Session in support of the bills which are requesting an expansion to the Texas Compassionate Use Program. Because of her study, Edwards was contacted by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy to join their ranks as a non-resident scholar for Drug Policy.
In November 2019 she founded CannaVi Hemp, a CBD Hemp product line with personally formulated products. Viridiana also sits on various boards including Foundation for an Informed Texas, Texas NORML, and Veterans Action Council.