Veterans are unable to opt for medical cannabis even in US states where medical and/or recreational cannabis is legalized. Read more about their struggle with regulations it right here.
There is a current crisis among American veterans and it’s been going on for far too long. Approximately 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and are estimated to be 40% more likely to suffer chronic severe pain than civilians.
The opioid crisis has continued to plague the country, and the number of vets dying from accidental-overdose on opioids is twice as much the national average. This crisis is slowly being managed in some US states, such as New York, where medical cannabis has been approved as an alternative to painkillers prescription.
Even though states are changing their medical marijuana programs, VA physicians are still forbidden by the federal government to recommend veterans medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option. Normally, VA physicians prescribe veterans with powerful (and highly addictive) medications such as opiates and benzodiazepines.
Since cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, veterans are unable to opt for medical cannabis even in US states where medical and/or recreational cannabis is legalized.
Veterans are not able to discuss or pursue a medical cannabis treatment with their VA primary care, and in case they do it, they may lose their benefits due to the Controlled Substances Act.
Veterans are also very likely to become depressed or acquire PTSD as a result of their service. Others receive the conditions as a result of the medications they’re prescribed. More than 20 percent of the 2.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will at some point experience post-traumatic stress or depression.
An American Legion survey about veteran households reported that 82 percent wish to have marijuana as a federally legal treatment option, and also 83 percent believe that the federal government should legalize medical marijuana.
Despite that the majority of veterans would like to have access to legal marijuana, some important members of Congress like Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, keep perpetuating myths and voting against the veterans’ interest.
There are currently more than 26,000 veterans living in the 7th Congressional District of Texas, and Culberson has voted several times against their interests. He voted against the Veterans Equal Access Amendment that would allow VA-affiliated physicians to recommend medical cannabis treatment to veterans in states with a medical marijuana programs. Culberson also voted against the Rohrabacher/Farr Amendment that prohibits the Department of Justice from intervening with state medical marijuana programs and the patients of these programs.
Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who was previously “unalterably opposed” to cannabis legalization recently said, “I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”
Recently, the House Veterans Affairs Committee voted unanimously to pass the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act and send the bill to floor. The bill says that the VA is allowed to study medical marijuana and requires the agency to report the studies’ process back to Congress.
Many veterans are actually leaving behind their VA-benefits and choosing to get their medical marijuana cards in states where the treatment option is legal. Of course not all vets can take this leap, but for those who are able to, the results have been truly tremendous. That’s how meaningful cannabis legalization on a federal level, so that those who serve, can access something that is entirely natural.