Despite the fact that nearly three dozen states currently allow for the cultivation and sale of cannabis products for medicinal use, recreational use or both, veterans are among those still pleading their case to be granted access to medical marijuana.
Although there is widespread support within the veteran community for the use of mmj, convincing the U.S. government of its therapeutic benefits, especially for those individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), remains a significant hurdle—primarily because veterans are government employees and cannabis is still considered an illegal drug at the federal level.
Here’s where we stand on veterans and medical marijuana.
Currently, VA doctors cannot recommend mmj and are prohibited from completing the required paperwork that would allow veterans to participate in state-approved medical marijuana programs. However, it is worth noting that veterans who do use mmj in accordance with state laws will not be denied their VA benefits.
What about those individuals living in states where marijuana use is not permitted?
Believe it or not, many veterans will relocate to a state with an mmj program just so they can have access to the treatment of their choice. Vietnam-era veteran Terry Moore is a perfect example; Moore told Cannabis Now magazine that he divides his residency between his home state of Indiana and neighboring Illinois to be able to acquire his medicine.
PTSD and medical cannabis: A better way to wellness?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is a psychiatric disorder triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Because such events are common in war and combat situations, and because of the high intensity of military life in general, a significant number of returning servicemembers suffer from PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, insomnia, depression, anxiety and irritability as well as social withdrawal, self-destructive behavior and suicide. Veterans who have turned to cannabis to help alleviate these symptoms report positive results, which has prompted a new field of research on the subject—including the first FDA-approved study of cannabis for PTSD in veterans.
Evidence suggests medical cannabis offers a safe and effective treatment alternative for PTSD symptoms. Veterans who make the switch from prescription drugs to mmj often see a drastic improvement in their mental and physical health, citing relief from many of the symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Research published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy specifically credits mmj with helping to reduce symptoms of anxiety and insomnia, as well as helping to improve coping ability so that veterans are better equipped to reenter civilian life.
The majority of U.S. veterans want access to medical marijuana.
Our returning servicemembers deserve the highest possible level of care and the most effective treatment methods for PTSD and other health conditions common among veterans. Many believe this includes access to medical marijuana.
American Legion, a not-for-profit organization, represents one of the largest veteran communities nationwide. Following a recent member survey, they found that 82 percent of members believe veterans should have access to medical cannabis as a form of treatment. (Incidentally, a new Gallup poll indicates that support for legalizing marijuana use in the United States is at an all-time high.)
The Veterans Cannabis Project, founded by former U.S. Navy Seal Nick Etten, is another group working to bring about “unrestricted and supported access to medical cannabis” for veterans. Their goal is to work closely with the legal cannabis industry to bring about change in Congress and improve veterans’ health with safe treatment options.
New legislation indicates change may be on the horizon.
A growing number of U.S. senators, along with outspoken veteran advocacy groups, are slowly chipping away at the system, and we may be getting closer to the day when our government—in particular the Department of Veterans Affairs—finally changes its tune on supporting mmj use for veterans.
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in December, hemp-derived CBD was removed from the DEA’s list of controlled substances. Many mmj advocates believe this is the first step toward changing the classification of cannabis as a dangerous Schedule I drug, which in turn could open the door to nationwide cannabis legalization.
Also toward the end of last year, lawmakers introduced the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act. If passed, the bill would permit veterans to “use, possess, or transport medical marijuana” in accordance with individual state laws and would finally allow VA doctors to recommend mmj for their patients. The Safe Harbor Act would also allocate $15 million for research into the benefits of mmj for veterans.
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Here at Desert Rose Dispensary, we believe in the value of education. We keep our finger on the pulse of the medical marijuana industry and strive to bring you the most current news and information to help you stay informed about the latest updates in marijuana law.
If you are a veteran and a state-licensed mmj cardholder, stop by Desert Rose any day of the week and speak with a member of our knowledgeable and compassionate staff. Not only can we help you select the best treatment for your needs, but you will receive 15% off your entire purchase with proof of service.
Call Desert Rose today at 623-516-7881 or visit us in Phoenix at 24905 North 7th Avenue, close to the Norterra shopping center.