Home Advocacy Why Are Military Veterans Being Denied Safe Access To Medical Cannabis?

Why Are Military Veterans Being Denied Safe Access To Medical Cannabis?

PTSD is hard to describe, tough to quantify, and seemingly difficult to treat.

You can’t truly know it unless you’re living the nightmare. Or in many cases, re-living the nightmare over and over again.

You can’t sleep because you’re afraid to dream. Friends and loved ones want to help, but they can’t understand. These are just a few of the ways it’s been described.

It’s a painful situation for all involved, and science and recovery procedures up until now have been fairly ineffective at treating this condition.

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) –

11-20% of those that served in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) suffer from PTSD

12% of those who served in Desert Storm suffer from PTSD

15% of Vietnam Veterans suffer from PTSD according to Veterans Affairs, with outside estimates being higher.

PTSD is also a contributing factor to the high rate of suicides committed by military veterans.

Fortunately, cannabis has been found to be an effective treatment for PTSD.

Cannabis can help, but only if laws are reformed

There is an epidemic occurring in America, yet, sadly, there are politicians who are un-swayed by this truth.

Members of Congress have kept a gag order in place which prevents VA doctors from discussing medical cannabis with patients, even when the patient lives in a legal state, and even when the doctor knows it would help.

This complete prohibition on even discussing medical cannabis as a solution to the pain and suffering of our veterans is harmful to veterans’ health.

Doctors should be allowed to discuss any medicine that would help military veterans, cannabis or otherwise.

Reform effort thwarted by members of Congress

Earlier this year, Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced a ‘Veterans Equal Access’ provision to the Department of Veterans Affairs funding bill.

The provision would have removed the gag order currently in place that prevents VA doctors from discussing medical cannabis with patients.

The provision was passed by both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate with broad bipartisan support earlier this year.

Unfortunately, last week Republican leadership in Congress removed the provision from the final Department of Veterans Affairs funding bill.

“It’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing that despite broad bipartisan, bicameral support, a handful of out-of-touch lawmakers put politics over the well-being of America’s wounded warriors. Our veterans deserve better,” Congressman Blumenauer said in an e-mail to Green Flower.

“We will continue to seek every opportunity to make sure they have fair and equal treatment and the ability to consult with, and seek a recommendation from, their personal VA physician about medical marijuana.” Blumenauer said.

Reforms are very much still needed

The question still remains, why shouldn’t doctors be able to prescribe such a valuable medicine?

The next step for medical cannabis is the same as it’s always been. Educating people on all sides about the truth of responsible, life-enhancing cannabis use.

Our military veterans are suffering, especially from PTSD, and sadly, some of them are still planning on taking their own lives as a result of their suffering.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer plans on reintroducing the provision in the next session. However, it passed last time then was stripped at the last minute from the overall funding bill. Will that happen again?

I sure hope not. Momentum for reform at the VA has been growing in recent years, and I’m hopeful that victories in November will help increase that momentum and push reform over the top.

There are currently 25 states that have legalized medical cannabis in America. Four more could be added on Election Day (Montana is voting to essentially re-legalize medical cannabis).

The American public supports allowing VA doctors to discuss medical cannabis, and it even appears that a solid majority of members of Congress agree.

A handful of medical cannabis opponents in Congress should not be able to stand in the way.

Policies that affect veterans’ healthcare should be decided by science and compassion, not politics.

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