Cannabis Can Help Veterans So Why Don't More Have Access to It?
With more innovations and research proving the benefits of medical cannabis for PTS, the time will come that the Veterans Health Administration will have the ability to prescribe it to veterans.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us? And I said; Here am I. Send me.” -Isaiah 6:8
When the brave men and women of America raise their right hand with the promise to go forward and defend the United States constitution, they do so with the complete understanding that they are writing a blank check that is payable with their life. Sadly, some of our brothers and sisters who gave our country everything they had will return home with scars. Many will have wounds that are not visible to the naked eye. Countless suffer from a condition called Post Traumatic Stress (“PTS”).
Cannabis and PTS
Cannabis has shown a lot of promise in treating PTS, and we are closer than ever to making it a reality for our veterans to receive medical cannabis treatment at the federal level. The road to our goal has had lots of twists and turns, but getting cannabis into the hands of servicemen and women is as essential as ever.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health study: “Estimates of PTSD prevalence rates among returning service members vary widely across wars and eras. In one major study of 60,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, 13.5 percent of deployed and non deployed veterans screened positive for PTSD.
Other studies show the rate to be as high as 20 percent to 30 percent. As many as 500,000 U.S. Troops who served in these wars over the past 13 years have been diagnosed with PTSD.”
Many have known for decades the positive impact that cannabis can have in relieving the symptoms of PTS. However, in 2016 only California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine approved adult cannabis use, while Florida, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Montana approved medicinal use. Today, eighteen states and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis for recreational use, while 38 states have it for medicinal purposes.
Meanwhile, the public support for veterans and their medical cannabis access is growing. In a recent poll, 86 percent of citizens support allowing doctors to prescribe medical cannabis in V.A. facilities.
The medical benefits of cannabis are also being recognized worldwide. On December 2, 2020, the Commission of Narcotic Drugs (CND) from the United Nations opened the door to having cannabis removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Previously, cannabis was listed alongside highly addictive opioids like heroin.
Thankfully, the CND (which is comprised of 53 Member States/Nations) voted to remove cannabis from this list. This officially recognized the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis on the international level, and it’s especially notable as the United States of America is one of the nations that voted in favor of removing cannabis from Schedule IV.
The vote by the United States at the international level is puzzling. Domestically, we maintain cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic. Ironically, we even claim that: “While a safe and effective cannabis-derived therapeutic has been developed, cannabis itself continues to pose significant risks to public health and should continue to be controlled under the international drug control conventions.” This statement, when put against our vote at the international level, has to raise some eyebrows.
For veterans, it is demoralizing as it again screams politics versus support.
Cannabis for Battle Brothers
No one cares for veterans like other veterans. We know all too well the trials we face in everyday life, the demons that haunt us from battles we endured in combat. It’s a core reason why we at Helmand Valley Growers Company partnered with the Battle Brothers Foundation.
With the progressive movements occurring at the state level and the removal of cannabis from Schedule IV from international law, the United States has begun to loosen its grip on research. For years, the DEA only provided one license to the University of Mississippi for the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Now they are giving new DEA licenses to organizations and seeking to accept more applications soon.
All the while, the veteran movement has grown in strength, and our politicians are hearing us. After all, they sent us to war. Now it is their turn to fix us.
With more innovations and more research to prove the benefits of medical cannabis, the time will come that the Veterans Health Administration will have the ability to prescribe veterans medical cannabis for PTS symptoms. In fact, nonprofits such as the Battle Brothers Foundation are pursuing this very mission by obtaining its own IRB and working with Niamedic and University of California Irvine to show how medical cannabis can reduce PTS symptoms among veterans. If you are a veteran looking to get involved, please look up the Veterans Action Council (VAC) and make a difference.