The team here at Smoke Reports wants to thank all of the men and women who have fought to protect America. This Veterans Day, we encourage everyone to take a focused look at the social treatment of our soldiers once they return from service.
The United States is incredibly proud of our Armed Forces, and those serving are honored for their courage and their sacrifice. Unfortunately, the human toll of combat is not always visible on the outside.
Veterans Suffering from PTSD and Depression
As part of the RAND Corporation’s monograph series, editors Terri Tanielian and Lisa Jaycox found that nearly 20% of all troops returning from the Afghanistan/Iraq conflict display distinct signs of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and over 25% of deployed troops show symptoms of depression.
The problem is that once our troops return to their home soil, there is a lack of support from their government and the community. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has long been criticized for its poor record with providing suitable health benefits for former military personnel.
Veterans and Cannabis
Access to medical cannabis is becoming increasingly easier and safer. Twenty-three states have functioning medical programs, and an additional seventeen states have recently enacted cannabis laws approving only the non-psychoactive compounds (most notably cannabidiol, or CBD).
Federal laws still prohibit cannabis use despite voter-approved legislation, and the Department of Veteran Affairs threatens to retract any healthcare coverage for veterans engaging in their state’s medical cannabis program.
The United States military veteran suicide epidemic is a very real thing. The US government is trying very hard to downplay the root cause of this tragic phenomenon, and they claim they will do everything in their power to solve this problem. Everything, except approving cannabis for the treatment of post-combat PTSD.
The cannabis community has emerged as one of the main proponents behind improved healthcare opportunities for US military veterans. In an era where the Department of Veterans Affairs is tangled in several controversies and corruption cases, it is left to the public to support our troops.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the people and organizations supporting veterans suffering from PTSD and depression. If we examine the existing research, and continue to support our troops, this is a fight that could be the tipping point for progressive cannabis laws in the United States.
Organizations Helping Veterans with Cannabis
There are several incredible organizations fighting to give hassle-free cannabis access to veterans suffering from deployment-related illnesses. Smoke Reports is proud to support the individuals and organizations that deserve recognition for their efforts.
One such group is the Weed for Warriors Project. Along with additional support from other associations like the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance, the public is now more aware of the obstacles that veterans are having to push through to find some relief.
Nationwide events, like the Cannaball Run, highlight the need for PTSD victims to have safe and reliable access to cannabis medicine. The Cannaball Run is a cross-country awareness journey that has been going on for nearly a month.
The convoy has arrived in Washington, D.C., and plans to meet at the VA Headquarters early on Veterans Day for a march down Pennsylvania Ave, ending in a pill bottle display at the White House gates.
The pill bottle event protests the Department of Veterans Affairs’ willingness to force a cocktail of pharmaceuticals down the throats of veterans, while stubbornly denying the potentially lifesaving benefits of cannabinoid therapy.
Researching the Effectiveness of Cannabis on PTSD
Researching cannabis is an arduous process. Completing the initial approval process for cannabis studies can take years (as opposed to pharmaceutical studies which are approved before the ink dries). Yet despite the friction imposed by governing forces, cannabis advocates continue to push for better science and understanding.
Unfortunately, it is the lack of scientific evidence that is keeping cannabis out of the hands of deserving veterans. The VA is unwillingly to approve cannabis as a medicine for veterans without substantial research. Federal policymakers are unwilling to approve any clinical studies designed to examine the medical benefit of cannabis.
This leaves veterans with a choice: take only the pharmaceutical cocktail, or try cannabis and risk losing your hard-earned healthcare benefits.
There are people that are fighting hard to research cannabis. Dr. Sue Sisley is one of the most prominent advocates for cannabis research for PTSD. Dr. Sisley has spent the last few years trying to secure funding and approval for a clinical cannabis study, which will potentially be the first of its kind.
Dr. Sisley was publicly fired from the University of Arizona in what seems to be a political controversy surrounding cannabis research at public institutes. At the time, Dr. Sisley and her study sponsor MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) seemed to be out of options, until the Colorado Board of Health gave her study new life with a grant from the Colorado Medical Marijuana Research Grant Program.
The study requires $2 million and will explore cannabis use for reducing PTSD symptoms. For the duration of the clinical examinations, 76 U.S. veterans will participate in a “placebo-controlled, triple-blind, randomized crossover pilot study of the safety and efficacy of five different potencies of smoke or vaporized marijuana.”
On September 22nd, 2015, the IRB at Johns Hopkins University provisional approved the study pending the final green light from the DEA. In June of 2015, the U.S. Department of Public Health and Human Services eliminated the Public Health Service review of proposed cannabis research, reducing the number of redundant obstacles keeping cannabis science from prevailing.
The Future of a Compassionate Country
Cannabis has a future in America. Social attitudes are shifting to a more lenient and tolerant view on cannabis as both a medicine and a recreational consumable. States are exceeding estimated tax revenues, the industry is booming, and there is no evidence of increased crime or youth exposure.
Even politicians are addressing the cannabis issue, which pits states’ rights against conservative social values. Time, Newsweek, and National Geographic all featured cover stories on cannabis. This is becoming a household conversation.
The future of cannabis in America should be based off of the medicinal qualities. According to DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg (who has no scientific background), there is no evidence that cannabis is medicinal. This intentional ignorance is devastating the cannabis community, including the soldiers who risk their lives for our country.
Public Support for Healthy Veterans
Supporting veterans is something that should be first on America’s to-do list, so why are our political leaders, who so willingly deploy our Armed Forces, be the main roadblock for PTSD and cannabis? The Federal government is willing to take a day off in the name of the men and women who protect the United States.
It is left up to us to take that day and spread it into a lifetime of supporting safe access to medicine, for veterans with PTSD all the way to children suffering from seizures. This Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect on what you can do to help your community.
We should not be voting for policymakers who sacrifice the livelihoods of U.S. citizens and then deny them comfort and health when they return home.
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