In another win for legal medical cannabis, the senate has finally passed legislation that will allow doctors to discuss the treatment with their veteran patients. That means 23 states will be able to recommend medical cannabis to veterans suffering from PTSD and other debilitating diseases and disabilities.
On Veteran’s Day, several dozen veterans marched to the White House, putting thousands of prescription pill bottles on the ground to protest medical cannabis prohibition. They then placed white roses on top of the pill bottles in honor and remembrance of veterans who have been lost to suicide. While some might not see this as a huge victory, every little step towards ending prohibition is a good one.
“We see this victory as a step toward a peace treaty with the government we volunteered to defend with our lives and as a step toward restoring our first amendment rights and dignity as citizens of the United States, ” said TJ Thompson, a disabled Navy veteran said in a Drug Policy Alliance press release.
Other federal healthcare programs like Medicaid, Medicare and CHIP have been allowing doctors to discuss and recommend cannabis to their patients. Up until this legislation had passed, the VA was the only one that prohibited physicians from doing so. While this should give veterans access to medical cannabis in 23 states, there are still more states where the treatment remains illegal.
“On this eve of Veterans/Armistice Day where we remember those who served in the military and the treaty agreement to reach peace concluding WWI, we see this victory as a step toward a peace treaty with the government we volunteered to defend with our lives and as a step toward restoring our first amendment rights and dignity as citizens of the United States, ” Thompson said in the press release.
Studies have indicated that medical cannabis can help treat PTSD and traumatic brain injury, illnesses that many veterans suffer. A 2014 study showed a 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms when some patients were being treated with medical cannabis, compared to when they were not. The study concluded that another, placebo-controlled study is needed to determine efficacy of cannabis and its constituents in treating PTSD. Hopefully these studies continue to happen quickly and effectively, as 22 American veterans commit suicide every day.
“With a current veteran suicide rate of 22 per day, it’s time for the Veterans Administration to recognize that there are alternative forms of treatment available.” Thompson told reporters on the day of the march.
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