As seen in: Issue 31

Veteran Grows Medicine As Alternative To Prescription Drugs

To any person walking by, Steve walks and talks normally. But those people cannot see the scars that he carries – both emotionally and physically – beginning with a 5-inch wound on his back where an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) blew through him while he was serving as a 12B Combat Engineer in 2008. The blast almost ended his life. 

It took two years of intensive physical therapy to get him to a point where he could walk again (although many doctors said it couldn’t be done). After that, it was another seven years of physical therapy until he could manage his life and function normally. 

Steve Defino - grown by veterans

When soldiers enlist to serve their country, the system isn’t always prepared to assist them with the emotional and physical traumas that they sustained and subsequently have to manage upon their return home. 

Steve realized he wanted to begin growing his own medicine when the prescribed traditional drugs didn’t have the effects that he needed. He wasn’t getting the necessary pain relief. He knew he could grow his own medical marijuana, and it would be higher quality than anything he could receive from doctors or purchase.

Hitting the Books 

But Steve didn’t begin his journey as an expert grower, so he set to work building connections with the leaders in the cannabis industry. He dedicated himself to learning all he could to bring his dream of opening his own facility to fruition. 

Steve Defino

He took the knowledge he gleaned from others and began using it along with his own techniques, which, over the years, made him a better grower. As he improved, he started growing for other veterans. 

“I’ve put in the years to ensure that it’s done right!

“Other vets now come to me and tell me that the medicine we grow has helped their seizures stop, or that their PTSD symptoms have stopped, and they ask me, ‘Why?’

“It’s because I know what it’s like on the really bad days, and I know what it’s like on good days. I know what it’s like to be in debilitating pain and not able to function. And I don’t want anyone else to experience the amount of pain and suffering that I’ve gone through.

I owe it all to this medicine – I wouldn’t be here without it.”

A Dream Realized: Triceraterps Farms

Now, four years later, Steve is a month away from rolling out one of the biggest “baddest” facilities that Oklahoma has ever seen: Triceraterps Farms.

Grown By Veterans, For Veterans

Steve Defino

Oh yeah, and did we mention that it’s going to be grown by veterans?

Steve has put together a program to help wounded veterans, like himself, reintegrate into society and build the camaraderie that they’ve been missing since they returned.  

“So many people return and are depressed, and can even be suicidal, not seeing how their life can have a purpose again [post military service]. 

“That’s what I plan to do: give them that purpose, build that camaraderie, help them meet other veterans like themselves, all the while giving them the tools and the skills they need in order to work in the cannabis industry, in Oklahoma, as well as all over the country.  

“I want others to experience that type of life-changing feeling – to get that type of relief. That’s what it’s all about: medicine going to patients and getting them the relief they deserve.”

Steve chose ILUMINAR Lighting for Triceraterps Farms because the Founder and CEO, Shawn Brissette, immediately understood the need, and showed compassion. 

From a cloning room to a vegetative room and two flower rooms, he now has a spacious facility with over 200 fixtures from ILUMINAR Lighting. He’s blending the lighting spectrums of Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH), high wattage High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lighting with LED to grow medicinal strains that will best help those in need.

Only the Top Strains

Steve Defino

He’ll open with his exclusive “house” strains: Original Sunset Sherbet and Chemical Romance (CR) – which is notable for having one of the most complex terpene profiles that he’s seen yet in a cannabis plant. He’s been running Sunset Sherbet (aka Sunset Sherbert, Orange Sherbet, or simply Sherbet), for five years and CR for seven years. All his flowers will be cured in glass. He understands this is a significant undertaking, but he knows it’s essential for patients needing medical relief. 

Along with the house strains, grows will include:

  • Hollister Kush 
  • CastleRock Cherries
  • LemonG13xG13bx
  • SFV x I-95
  • LashKar Gah
  • Chem Brulee
  • GunBunny
  • …and many more hybrids on a rotation

Giving the Veterans the Pride and Ownership

In the new facility, one entire room will be dedicated to teaching incoming veterans the techniques and processes of growing medicinal cannabis. Steve wants to give back to veterans by passing on the useful information he’s been given along with his years of experience. 

Each bag of medicine will be signed by the veteran who grew it – allowing that veteran to re-infuse his or her life with meaning.

Man on a Mission

Steve is driven by the mission to give back that energy, love, and purpose that veterans often lose after they serve in the military. They lose their community and closest friends when they return home and can become isolated. Through this program, they’ll be able to rebuild fellowship while also serving wounded veterans. 

That military service comes back full circle.  

“I was 100% totally and permanently disabled — told I wouldn’t walk again, and now, I walk, and I talk normally. After so many years, I have pushed through it. Cannabis literally turned my life around and gave me the life I never knew I could have.

“I know what it feels like to want to kill yourself because you’re in so much pain. And I’m tired of burying my friends. It’s time to put an end to this and help veterans get the assistance they need.”

You can follow Steve Defino and his progress at Triceraterps Farms on Instagram: 



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Liz is always looking for the next great story. Blending her background in marketing with her post-graduate studies in psychology and organization development, she enjoys creating out-of-the-box strategies and magnetic content that sticks. Just recently joining the cannabis industry after years with luxury hoteliers, Liz has a passion for learning and is excited about the emerging innovations coming our way.