A hearing was held in Frankfort Kentucky of the Kentucky Assembly Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection, focusing on Veteran Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (PTSD)
The Veterans Administration testified that there are 350,000 cases of Veteran PTSD among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. Around the same time the Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal study reported 283,000 cases of PTSD among Vietnam Veterans for a total of 633,000 cases of PTSD.
This total does not include Korean, Cold or Gulf war Veterans. Include them and we are easily looking at 3 quarters of a million cases of PTSD among the Veteran population.
Given the VA reported high number of suicides among Veterans and the fact that PTSD sufferers can be driven to extremes of self-destruction and violence by this condition and one can only conclude that we are witnessing a situation of epidemic proportions.
The VA testified in the Kentucky hearing that despite all the drugs and therapies used there has been little success in dealing with this condition and no drug can be said to work for PTSD. Veterans report being overloaded with treatments and enough drugs to choke a horse all with little to no relief.
The lousy success rate at the Veterans Administration has led many Veterans to turn to medical cannabis for relief from PTSD and chronic pain. They report great success and we believe them!
Veterans applying for the New Mexico Medical Marijuana Program report an average of a 75% reduction in their PTSD symptoms when using medical cannabis and many say medical cannabis has saved their lives and we believe them.
Veterans in States with medical marijuana programs are having great success and only run into trouble when, contrary to their own rules, the VA decides to withhold treatment because a Veteran tested positive in a routine urine test.
We have a conundrum that could not be more obvious. We have an epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among the Veteran population and the most successful treatment for it is illegal under Federal law!
We suggest that until Congress acts, the President expand the old Investigative New Drug Program, sometimes called the Compassionate Care Program that was killed by President HR Bush. Patients enrolled when that program was shut down sued and to this day the surviving patients receive a tin of 300 marijuana cigarettes every month from the Federal Marijuana Farm at the University of Mississippi.
There is no reason this program could not be expanded to help our Veterans. Tailor it to Veterans and have the VA Doctors do the applications. In states with a medical cannabis program the local VA could do a simple voucher program and for Veterans not in medical cannabis states simply send them a tin from Mississippi as they do now.
We can begin right now to help these Veterans to a better life without waiting for a dysfunctional Congress to act.
You know if we were out on patrol and a soldier came running up and said, “There’s a machine gun right around the bend!”, we would believe them!
These Veterans are coming to us and telling us, “This Medicine works!”, and we believe them!
We call on the Veterans Administration, the Federal Government and the Kentucky General Assembly to believe them as well!
Seventy seven years after marijuana prohibition began with the claim it would turn people into violent murderers, remember ‘Reefer Madness” and little Timmy killing Grandma with a skillet, pretty much all the claims about the harms of marijuana use have been proven to be false. Not one of the predicted outcomes cited by prohibitionists have happened.
Ohio is currently in a battle for legalization and the Cincinnati Enquirer has been following and reporting on it. In a column titled, “Who are the opponents of issue 3, which will legalize marijuana and is on the ballot this fall, the paper reports what the reasons for opposing legalization are. It seems to come down to 3 items.
The manner in which the ballot initiative regulates the marijuana business because initially there will be 10 farms which will be in competition with each other and the ballot uses the Ohio constitution to establish legalization.That didn’t seem to be a problem with the casino legislation but the opponents seem to think it is a problem with the marijuana industry.
It will make marijuana legally available state wide. Isn’t that the reason for legalization?
Legal marijuana is a threat to public safety. Although marijuana has been identified at crash sites more often, the number of accidents in Colorado are down, particularly fatal crashes.The study showing the increase in the presence of marijuana did not determine whether marijuana caused the accident. A recent study found marijuana users get into traffic accidents at the same rate as non-users.
Colorado, while initially having some child packaging problems, has experienced none of the predicted harms of using marijuana we have been told all these years would happen. The reality today is, as reported by the Drug Policy Alliance, traffic accidents especially fatal accidents are down. Violent crime is down and teen use is relatively the same as during prohibition. The Marijuana Policy Project reports record setting job growth, 21,000 in the industry as of June 2015, and Colorado has collected 74 million dollars in revenue as compared to 42 million dollars in alcohol revenue. To top it all off the Journal of the American medical Association reports a 24% drop in opioid overdose deaths in States with medical cannabis laws.
Time to admit we have been, to put it mildly, misled by the Government and the prohibitionists about marijuana and it’s effects since 1937 and they have been wrong every time.
The Government and those who would continue the prohibition of marijuana have absolutely no credibility on this issue and their pronouncements on marijuana and marijuana prohibition itself should be ignored and relegated to the dustbin of history.
August is ending and people are heading back to work and school after their summer vacations. Our legislators, after the November elections, will be heading back to Frankfort in January.
While Kentucky’s citizens will have to wait till January for our legislators to get back to work, the citizens of Ohio do not. When faced, as they are now, with the possibility of a voter initiative to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses that the Legislature does not like, they have, instead of crafting their own bill, have passed a bill only to stop legalization thereby guaranteeing the voter initiative will be passed without any legislative input or control. When that happens this November Kentucky will have a full legalization state on its border.
What will be the response then of Kentucky’s legislators? Will they double down on prohibition and spend tax dollars having police follow Kentucky citizens home form the pharmacies? Will they put border guards and checkpoints on the bridges? Should the legislature decide to put their heads in the sand and continue the policy of prohibition they must honestly explain the following reality.
Prohibitionists have claimed since California passed its medical cannabis laws 1996 that it being a medical law doesn’t matter and the citizens will be able to access marijuana any time they want. Ok, let’s give them that. That means Californians have had access to marijuana for 19 years. Almost 20 years of Californians using marijuana freely!
Exactly when will the predicted harms from the people using marijuana show up? When will teen use increase? When will the number of schizophrenics go up? Why are traffic accidents, especially fatal accidents down? Why is there a 25% reduction in opioid drug use in states like California? None of the predicted harms of legalization have happened in California and none of them will.
Hopefully when Kentucky’s legislators meet in January they will respond to Ohio’s restrictive legalization with a Colorado style legalization bill allowing our citizens to capture as much of this emerging market as we can.
The job creation numbers show Colorado has created 21,000 jobs so far in the marijuana industry and as Governor Hickenlooper who originally opposed legalization said in a recent interview about implementing legalization. “It was not as vexing as we thought it would be.”
The VA testified in a hearing in Kentucky that there are 350,000 cases of Veteran PTSD among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. The Vietnam Veterans longitudinal study reports a total of 283,000 cases of PTSD among Vietnam Veterans for a total of 633,000 cases. This total does not include Korean, Gulf or Cold War Veterans. Include them and we are looking at a total well above three quarters of a million cases of Veteran PTSD. Given the media reported total of 22 suicides a day among Veterans and the fact that PTSD sufferers can be driven to extremes of self-destruction and violence by this condition one can only conclude we are witnessing a situation of epidemic proportions.
The VA testified in Kentucky that despite all the drugs and treatments used there has been little success in dealing with this condition and no drug can be considered successful in treating PTSD. Veterans report being overloaded with treatments and enough drugs to choke a horse all with little or no relief.
The lousy success rate at the VA has led many Veterans to turn to medical cannabis for PTSD and pain relief. They report great success. Veteran applicants to the New Mexico Medical Cannabis program report an average 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms and many say medical cannabis has saved their lives, as it has mine. Veterans in States with medical cannabis programs are having great success and only run into trouble when, contrary to their own rules, the VA decides to withhold medical treatment because the Veteran had a urine test positive for cannabis.
Our conundrum could not be clearer, we have an epidemic of PTSD and the most successful treatment for it is illegal under Federal Law.
I would suggest that until Congress acts, the President revive the old Compassionate Care Program, originally called the Investigative New Drug Program, that was killed by President HR Bush. Patients from this program to this day receive a tin of cannabis from the Federal Government every month and there is no reason the program could not be revived to help our Veterans. We could do a voucher program for Veterans in States with Medical Cannabis programs and supply Veterans in non-medical cannabis states as we currently do for survivors of the old Compassionate Care program.
We can begin right now to help these Veterans without waiting for Congress. It is our obligation to do so as soon as we can.
With all the howling over the outrageous comments of Mr. Trump there is one thing most people aren’t commenting on. That is, that the things he is saying are exactly what Republicans say when they think no one is listening. His racist comments and now his comments about Senator McCain’s service are nothing I have not heard before from my Republican acquaintances and friends.
Republican outrage at Trump’s comments is not surprising given their silence when an equally valid war hero, Secretary Kerry was attacked over his service. Speaking from personal experience, I have never had my service or the benefits I receive for that service, questioned by a person of the Democratic persuasion. I have, on several occasions, had my service and service connected disability questioned by staunch Republicans. A Republican relative on my wife’s side of the family went so far as to call my wife and tell her we were no longer considered part of the family because I was granted VA disability. She then went on about her husband not being able to get his Social Security because I was using all the money up! These people are ‘very’ well off financially. Why the wealthy begrudge our Veterans and the poor what little help and benefit the Government might give them is beyond my understanding but it is the fabric of what they say when they think no one is listening.
Remember Romney’s 47% comment? That 47% of the people would not vote for him, the 47% who receive benefits from the Government. The, as he said it, people who are takers! He was not only talking about the poor, but anyone receiving benefits including Veterans.
If that comment, spoken with candor and expected privacy, does not expose the true nature of the conservative soul of today then I don’t know what does! Trump may be a jerk but he is a jerk speaking out loud what is normally said in private.
There has been a lot of speculation about the current unrest over heavy handed police actions resulting in the deaths of several African American men around the country.
The militarization of the police certainly is part of the problem. Sparked by the War on Drugs, Federal dollars expanded police agencies and bought the latest equipment. Beefed up City and Sheriffs offices started acting like a branch of the military and the military started a program of giving old military equipment to local police forces. The problem is that a military force needs an enemy and we, my fellow citizens are that enemy! This is especially true if one lives in an economically depressed area, are a member of a minority or are poor.
What then is the root cause of the unrest? Simply put it is poverty. Crushing poverty that has a man working 40 hours a week and still needing food stamps to survive. Poverty that has a man making only enough to feed his body enough energy to go work another 40 hours. Servitude of the ‘Company Store’ variety experienced by our coal miners in the past.
We can eliminate poverty here in America if we choose, we have both the tools and the wealth. Here’s how we could do it! Eliminate the cap on taxable income for Social Security currently at 160,000 dollars and raise the tax to 8%. Then lower the age of eligibility to 50 years old. Place a tax on all Stock Market trades of one or 2% and use that money to create a basic citizen stipend equivalent to 3 meals and a place to live say, 1500 to 2000 a month for all from age 21 to 50 as a right of citizenship. This stipend could have a means test to cut costs. For our young citizens we should start an account for all newborns that the government under some kind of formula deposits money into on a regular basis that the child gets when they turn 21 to get started in life. Of course 4 year college would be free as it is in other modern countries.
There it is. The elimination of poverty in America. Think of what freeing our citizens from economic servitude would do. The creative energies of our citizens would change the world. One could dedicate oneself to improving his life and the lives of all if one were not being held in economic servitude.
The nay-sayers will tell you that if people have a basic income, enough to cover 3 meals and a place to lay one’s head they will not work. However Social Security recipients work, military retirees who receive a good pension work so there is no reason to believe that those receiving the basic citizen stipend would not. One of the reasons businesses do not open in depressed areas is because the population does not have any money to spend. The basic citizen stipend would change all that.
There is no question that the plan outlined above can, with some tweaking if needed, work. It works in other modern countries so there is no doubt, if properly administered, it will work here in America. We have the tools and wealth and ability to end abject poverty in America, we only lack the will.
The much heralded and long awaited deal with Iran over its nuclear bomb making capability is another coup for the current administration and the American people in their desire for peace and stability.
It seems the current President is bent on ending all of our long standing disputes with other nations as the overall goal of our Foreign Policy. From the deal currently being worked out to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program, to ending our Cold War holdover beef with Cuba, our outstanding and outdated conflicts are being resolved or mitigated not only to our advantage, but to the advantage of the nations we were in conflict with.
Of all our disagreements with other countries around the world in the last half of the 20th century and into the 21st, none has done more damage to the country and its citizens than the war we are waging with ourselves over drugs, drug use and personal freedom. As a society we turned this problem over to the police to handle, the branch of society least suited for dealing with what is really a medical problem. Even with the experience of the failure of alcohol prohibition, four years after its end, somehow all the harms associated with alcohol use were being applied to marijuana use and we got the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act which was declared unconstitutional in 1969. President Nixon doubled down on prohibition with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 while ignoring the recommendations of his own appointed committee, the Shafer Commission which concluded that drug use and abuse was a medical problem and that marijuana should be decriminalized.
Now, hopefully, we may be finally coming to our senses. The current administration has shown an interest in abandoning the ideology of prohibition which has cost billions and incarcerated more of our citizens than any other country in the modern world, and embracing a policy of reform based on science and good medical practice. Turns out it is less harmful to allow people to do these drugs and to fit them with proverbial seatbelts, turn signals and other safety devices than it is to incarcerate them, destroy their families and communities and put them through a revolving door of prison and poverty.
This shift to harm reduction has worked in other modern countries and it will certainly work here. We must finally admit that our War on Some Drugs and not on others that are equally as dangerous has been an abject failure. Alcohol for example is every bit as addictive as heroin but alcohol is far more damaging to the body than heroin yet heroin is illegal, supposedly has no medical value and is dangerous, and alcohol is not. It is curious that drugs like heroin are illegal where drugs that are synthetic heroin like methadone, are ok. No logic or science to this difference but it keeps our police agencies funded, the prisons full and our Drug Warriors in a job.