It’s well known that the United States government often doesn’t treat its military veterans as well as they should be treated. Far too many former servicemen and women aren’t getting what they were promised when they enlisted. Those fortunate enough to escape war zones with their physical bodies intact must endure debilitating mental disorders that can follow them for the rest of their lives.
A significant portion of American veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when returning home from war. According to a 2012 report from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 30 percent of military vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan now suffer from PTSD and depression. While lifelong mental health problems stemming from fighting in a war are nothing new, what is new is how Americans are looking at treating these ailments.
Because of growing acceptance of the use of cannabis medicine, the drug has been advocated and championed in the treatment of veterans suffering from PTSD. Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the healing properties of cannabis will understand why the medicine will help alleviate PTSD symptoms like anxiety, flashbacks and depression. Studies have already shown a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms in patients who medicate with cannabis.
To date, the VA bans medical providers from recommending marijuana treatments to veteran patients, even in states where medical cannabis use is entirely legal. Our brave military vets are getting some good news. Recently, a bipartisan senate committee has approved a significant amendment that could help treat vets suffering from PTSD. The Veterans Equal Access Amendment passed by a vote of 18-12. The measure will allow VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis to veteran patients. The amendment has been added to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill.
“Elected officials are finally starting to wake up to the fact that endorsing marijuana reform is good politics instead of the dangerous third rail they’ve long viewed it as,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.
Of course marijuana will remain illegal at a federal level, but it’s becoming increasingly more obvious that the DEA and other law enforcement agencies are less interested in busting patients and caregivers and more interested in those still skirting laws and relying on black market resources and tactics.
Congress must still vote on the bill before it becomes law, but the amendment’s approval is a huge victory for cannabis policy reform. This particular amendment is the first time that upper chambers of Congress have voted positively on marijuana reform. There is still so much work to be done, whether treating vets with PTSD or cancer patients, but this is one step closer to the goal of legal access to the cannabis medicine they need to treat what ails them.