“Denying veterans access to therapeutic cannabis is making criminals of our heroes.”
National advocates, elected officials and representatives of Oregon’s 300,000 military veterans on Monday joined together in Ashland and Portland to call attention to Oregon’s appalling policy of denying medical cannabis to sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and to urge Oregonians to vote yes on Measure 80, which would allow adults 21 and older to purchase taxed and regulated cannabis (marijuana) at state-licensed stores.
“To say that we support our troops, and then to see them suffering from treatable conditions like PTSD is shameful and unconscionable,” said Roy Kaufmann, who spoke for Measure 80. “At least 1 in 5 Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans suffers from PTSD, not to mention the tens of thousands of veterans of past conflicts who’ve struggled for decades.
“Denying veterans access to therapeutic cannabis is making criminals of our heroes,” Kaufmann said. “Passing Measure 80 will allow our military veterans to access a medicine that has demonstrably positive impacts on PTSD’s many symptoms.”
Every day in America, 18 military veterans commit suicide. The United States has lost more military service-members and veterans to suicide than to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
|Michael Krawitz, Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access: “It is past time to end this situation”|
And, alarmingly high suicide rates are one piece of a very disturbing puzzle. Veterans are more likely than the general public to be disabled, to suffer from homelessness, and to suffer from serious brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, and other illnesses that stem from military and combat service.
All these factors increase the difficulty of re-integrating into the civilian world, which creates family stress, job and career challenges and additional barriers to a healthy life.
“Oregon’s criminal statutes regarding marijuana are part of a well-worn path of misery for many of the state’s disabled military veterans, a path that includes unemployment, homelessness, and chronic physical and mental illnesses,” said retired-disabled Air Force Sergeant Michael Krawitz, founder and executive director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, a national advocacy group. “It is past time to end this situation. Measure 80 will go a long ways to correcting this problem.”
Measure 80 will direct 90 percent of tax revenues from the sales of cannabis at state-licensed stores to the state’s general fund to pay for schools and social services. Measure 80 will also direct seven percent of tax revenues toward existing drug and alcohol treatment programs, many of which are underfunded and facing increased demand. “And lastly, Measure 80 will keep in place Oregon’s existing impaired-driving laws, while funding the development of new technologies similar to those used to test for alcohol impairment,” Kaufmann said.