Thousands of veterans asked the Obama Administration to at look into the science showing how cannabis works to alleviate suffering and save lives of veterans with brain injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and to then make appropriate changes in policy. "Allow United States Disabled Military veterans access to medical marijuana to treat their PTSD," the petition simply requested.
But the White House response to the veterans' petition was very disappointing. "We asked for a change in policy," Krawitz said. "To have our petition answered by the drug czar, an ex policeman, is most inappropriate given the drug czar is bound by law to ONLY discuss current law and has no power to discuss policy change with the public.
|Michael Krawitz, Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access: "To have our petition answered by the drug czar, an ex policeman, is most inappropriate"|
"Even the lowest ranking staffer at the White House or anyone from the Veterans Health Authority would have been more appropriate," Krawitz said.
With suicides outnumbering combat fatalities by a ratio of 25 to 1, according to Dr. Julie Holland, editor of The Pot Book, "This, given how effectively cannabis works to save lives, is an unacceptable loss," Krawitz said.
Recent research has revealed two things of great importance. One is that suicide rates drop around the implementation of medical marijuana laws, and the other is that new research indicates similar brain changes from athletic head injuries, military head trauma and brain changes from Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis.
The latest research shows how a human body-wide set of control functions called the Endogenous Cannabinoid Receptor System may be activated or augmented by the ingestion of cannabis, which has both neural protective and neural regenerative properties to help relieve these difficult-to-treat medical conditions.
Al Byrne, retired Naval officer and cofounder of VMCA, was blunt in his assessment of the White House's disregard for injured veterans.
|Medical Marijuana 411|
|Al Byrne, VMCA: "Vets have used cannabis for PTS since the Revolutionary War"|
"Vets have used cannabis for PTS since the Revolutionary War," Byrne said. "We know what we need and to be told by our President, the Commander in Chief, that he does not care about those he has sent to war by denying medicine to the wounded is unconscionable."
"Our community can no longer afford to be ignorant about this," said cannabis consultant Mickey Martin, author of the book Medical Marijuana 101 and the marijuana blog Cannabis Warrior. "It is time we begin to have real conversation about the dangers of denying soldiers a safer alternative that can possibly help them to limit the issues that come with PTSD.
"If we really care about humanity, and if we really support our soldiers, it is obvious that our government MUST stop inhibiting research into cannabis and its therapeutic possibilities where PTSD and other serious illness are involved," Martin said. "And the war on the drugs themselves often give PTSD to a great number of officers and victims, as well.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is now in direct conflict with the White House, according to the VMCA.
|Cannabis consultant Mickey Martin: "Our community can no longer afford to be ignorant about this"|
"The provider (VA) will take the use of medical marijuana into account in all prescribing decisions, just as the provider would for any other medication," Veterans Affairs Undersecretary of Health R.A. Petzel, M.D., wrote to the VMCA's Krawitz [PDF].
The President, when asked why he doesn't do something positive about medical marijuana, is quoted in Rolling Stone magazine as saying "I can't nullify Congressional law. I can't ask the Justice Department to say, 'Ignore completely a federal law that's on the books."
"If that is truly the President's position it is either based upon ignorance of his power or he is playing politics," Krawitz said. "The President can do many things -- the DEA was created by an executive order!
"The President could ask the NIDA to stop blocking research or he could ask HHS to finally follow the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine or he could ask Congress to move forward on the issue or he could even properly reschedule cannabis as a medicine by executive order," Krawitz said. "The President could do so many things but instead seems to be sacrificing our nation's veterans."
One irony of the Drug Czar's response to the veterans' petition is that his words seem to be lifted right from the Institute of Medicine report from 1999 that was actually commissioned by then-Drug Czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, according to Krawitz.
"The IOM report did indeed say that cannabis holds great promise in the future as a pharmaceutical but it then went on to say that we know enough about the plant material [in 1999] to give the whole plant material to those patients most in need right now [in 1999]," Krawitz said. "Don't veterans suffering and dying classify as patients in extreme need?"
To read the entire 1999 Institute of Medicine report, click the link below:
Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base by Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A. Benson, Jr., Editors, Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Health, Institute of Medicine