Veterans Push To Recognize Medical Marijuana
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 11/25/2014 in Medical Marijuana
When the country’s first recreational cannabis retail outlet opened its doors in Colorado recently, the first sale of marijuana was made to an Iraq War veteran, who said that he uses marijuana to help medically subdue his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Former Air Force senior airman, Amy Rising says that she makes breakfast for her second-grader son each day before driving him to school. Then she comes home and prepares what she calls, her ‘medicine’. Amy suffers from sever anxiety as a result of 4 years in the frenetic global command center at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. There she co-ordinated missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, missions that included bombings. What was really hard about working in command was never being able to see the damage you did on the ground,” she said. “You start to think about all the orphans and widows you created, and that you do hit civilians.”
And although she has found a medicine that helps her deal with her disorder, she says that because that medicine comes in the form of a joint, her local Veterans Affairs hospital will not provide it.
Despite this there have been a growing number of veterans who are coming out of the ‘cannabis closet’, and they are urging the government to recognize medical marijuana as a legitimate treatment for their war wounds. Veterans say that cannabis is a useful tool in coping with the various physical and psychological conditions related to the reality of military service.
Veterans are also lobbying for more states to legalize medical marijuana however their primary focus is the federal government, specifically, the Department of Veterans Affairs. Because marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, the VA, which runs the largest network of hospitals and health clinics nationwide, is not legally allowed to prescribe marijuana as a treatment, even to those veterans who live in legal medical marijuana states.
VA spokeswoman, Gina Jackson, says that medical staff are also legally prohibited from completing any of the required paperwork to enroll in state marijuana programs, because they are “federal employees who must comply with federal law.” According to the Veterans Affairs, its physicians and chronic pain specialists “are prohibited from recommending and prescribing medical marijuana for PTSD or other pain related issues.” Despite the increasing number of vets who are requesting access to it. Again bringing the spotlight on the federal governments unwillingness to budge, while state policies become more tolerant and resonant of the will of its people.
Advocates like Amy Rising, say now more than ever, it is imperative that the federal government recognize marijuana as a treatment, because there are so many veterans of recent and current wars. “It’s not about getting stoned. It’s about getting help,” she said. “The VA doesn’t have any problem giving us addictive pharmaceutical drugs by the bagful.”
Michael Krawitz, a former Air Force staff sergeant and the director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, explains that if veterans report their use of marijuana to VA, they could face criminal charges if they live in a state where it is illegal. And although only a few have indeed been charged, the mere possibility has spawned a culture of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”. As more states legalize medical marijuana, VA medical staff worry that this culture is creating a potentially dangerous situation, because doctors do not know all the medications their patients are using.