We should be well beyond questioning whether or not marijuana helps our returning veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. But instead, vets are still denied access by Veterans Affairs doctors who are bound by federal laws prohibiting weed.
A bill introduced yesterday by Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Dana Rohrabacher of California and co-signed by 10 other bipartisan lawmakers, would change that.
“Post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury are just as damaging and harmful as any injuries that are visible from the outside,” Blumenauer said in a release. “Sometimes even more so because of the devastating effect they can have on a veteran’s family. We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows.”
The bill would end a federal ban on VA doctors writing recommendations or even discussing the matter openly with vets in states where medical pot is legal:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall authorize physicians and other health care providers employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to–
(1) provide recommendations and opinions to veterans who are residents of States with State marijuana programs regarding the participation of veterans in such State marijuana programs; and
(2) complete forms reflecting such recommendations and opinions.
According to the Center for PTSD run by the VA, as many as 20 percent of all returning veterans suffer from PTSD at some point after returning home. And it’s not just veterans, either. Half of all adults will experience some form of trauma in their lives – and while it doesn’t always result in PTSD, the reality is that it often can and does and more states should be adopting it as a valid condition for medical cannabis.
According to recent studies out of New Mexico, where medical pot can legally be recommended for PTSD, cannabis can help reduce the symptoms of PTSD by up to 75 percent.
Of the 23 states that allow for medical cannabis, only ten allow it for PTSD.