Getting Veterans The Medicine They Need

The July 10, 2014 Hearing of the Kentucky Assembly Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection focused on Veteran Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There were three representatives testifying for the Veterans Health Administration. They were from the Louisville Veterans Affairs Hospital, in the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Program there. They testified that there are 350,000 cases of PTSD among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. They also testified about the many therapies and drugs they use to treat Veteran Post Traumatic Stress and that these therapies and drugs are minimally effective at best.
Veterans at the hearing testified that medical cannabis used by thousands of Veterans in Medical Cannabis States to deal with their PTSD report cannabis is very effective in controlling and relieving their symptoms. Many reject the drugs proffered by the Veterans Administration in favor of cannabis simply because it works and without the horrible side effects they experience when using pharmaceutical drugs. Veteran patients, recently applying for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program, report a 70% reduction in symptoms when using medical cannabis. Additionally the Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study recently reported that there are 283,000 cases of PTSD among Vietnam Veterans giving us a reported total of 633,000 cases of PTSD. This does not include Korean, Gulf War or Cold War Veterans.
Will the Veterans Administration listen? There are some signs that they are. The VA has recently issued guidelines for dealing with Veteran medical cannabis patients and no longer demands they give up their medical cannabis to be treated by a VA pain doctor. While this is some progress, it is not the ultimate goal which is for the VA to provide medical cannabis for its Veteran patients.
There is hope! A legal case over the Scheduling of cannabis as Schedule I, dangerous and having no medical value is currently in progress. Should it result in a classification of anything less than Schedule I, it could allow VA doctors to prescribe it for their Veteran patients. Also there is a PTSD/Cannabis study approved to go forward but is temporarily on hold. Once it begins the science will most certainly show there is no excuse for denying Veteran patients access to this effective medicine.
We hear our legislators and would be legislators on the campaign trail saying all the time, “Anything for our Veterans” and “They deserve all we can do for them”. Well Gentlemen and Ladies, your Veterans need access to medical cannabis now. Not tomorrow, but right now. On this Veterans Day, how about your actions match your words. How about passing legislation that will make this medicine available to those who by their devotion and sacrifice, in your words many times over, “Deserve all we can give them.”

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