While the majority of states that have legalized marijuana have added PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions, it’s widely-known that cannabis still remains illegal under federal law.
Never mind that countless vets have found the relief they so desperately need from symptoms of PTSD with MMJ. Until the feds recognize its benefits, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs refuses to do the same.
Is the VA Responsible for Keeping Vets Hooked on Prescription Opioids?
In October, Newsweek suggested that it’s the Department of Veteran’s Affairs responsible for making hooking countless veterans on opioids. The published report says that the VA is accustomed to overprescribing opioids, largely ignoring how these prescriptions have been passed out in the past.
It wasn’t until 2015 that the VA started monitoring opioid medications prescribed to vets. This is well after the opioid crisis the country is facing started, and far too long after countless vets had taken their lives.
The VA however, attests that it is already taking necessary action to safeguard that veterans are protected when taking prescription opioids. They say they’ve already helped almost 70,000 vets get treatment for addiction this year, and that they’re open to helping those who have served this country explore alternative treatment options.
The VA released a press release in 2016 that showed since 2001, veteran suicides have increased 32 percent, while civilian suicide rates increased by 23 percent. In the press release the VA claims they are “aggressively undertaking a number of new measures to prevent suicide.” Medical marijuana is not one of them.
Over 80 Percent of Vets Want Medical Marijuana to be Legally Mandated
Other organizations want to see things change. Take the American Legion, for example. This patriotic veteran’s organization has been focusing on service to vets since 1919. The group is also one that wants to see vets have safe access to medical marijuana, arguing that it could reduce suicide rates and ease the anguish among men and women who have engaged in war.
According to Joe Plenzer, spokesman for the American Legion, prescription opioids should be considered “zombie drugs.” He has said that not only do opioids negatively affect the mood and personality of vets, but also increase the risk of suicide.
A phone survey by the American Legion was conducted in 2016 on over 800 vets and veteran caregivers. 92 percent of the people surveyed said they supported research of medical marijuana to treat both physical and psychological conditions. 82 percent of respondents voiced that they wanted medical marijuana as a federally mandated treatment option.
Power to the People? Not So Much Where Medical Cannabis is Concerned
It’s unfortunate that a government designed to serve its people is putting politics and outdated policy before them. The men and women that have served this country deserve all options available to them, medical cannabis included.
While the VA says they’re doing what’s necessary to monitor prescription opioid use, more veterans are likely to overdose from opioids than civilians. The most recent federal data shows that vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are twice as likely to die from an overdose of prescription painkillers than the rest of the country.
If this is the case, why won’t they reschedule medical marijuana? Archaic views on marijuana won’t do anything to help the countless veterans who have served this country. But until the feds decide to say it’s okay, many will continue to suffer in vain.