Veterans Groups Fight For Marijuana Access To Curb Opioid Abuse
Published on 4/8/17
Only 14 of 28 medical marijuana states allow patients with PTSD access to cannabis, and while the last few years have seen great progress in marijuana law reform, too many veterans are being left without the proper medication due to outdated laws. Even Governor Chris Christie, who is notoriously against marijuana, added PTSD to New Jersey's qualifying conditions for medical marijuana after he found out that 20% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is currently prohibited from prescribing marijuana of any sort to patients due to the federal ban on the drug, but many vets have little options for medication, especially after the VA began limiting opioid prescriptions last year due to too many overdoses. New Jersey is on it's way to allowing PTSD patients access to medical marijuana by next month. More veteran groups are openly supporting PTSD access to the drug in hopes of bringing relief to their wounded brothers and sisters in arms.
“Medical marijuana can be very helpful, especially when treating chronic pain and anxiety,” Chistov told TheDCNF. “It saddens me to hear that of all people, Veterans are not allowed to receive marijuana treatment — even if it might help them more than conventional treatment options. In the long term, I believe that the trend towards state legalization and the strong voice of our nation will eventually impact federal regulations.”
It is currently a violation of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policy to prescribe or even recommend marijuana to a patient, due to its status as a Schedule I drug alongside deadly narcotics. VA hospitals began weaning veterans off painkillers and limiting the number of prescriptions written for opioids last fall in the wake of spiking overdoses, but without access to medical marijuana many veterans will have limited options.
“The most evil thing in the world is a person who would knowingly allow their brother, sister, or neighbor to suffer,” Tom Lee, a veteran and marijuana activists in Arkansas, told THV 11 in March. “I’ve tried not to do that and I’ve tried to let everyone know the truth about this plant.”