For America’s veterans, the fight doesn’t always end when the war is over or the battle is won. Veterans, for decades have returned home to face new struggles in the forms of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and lingering injuries. Doctors for years have tried to treat these conditions with opioids and other prescriptions, but these have proven to be problematic and addictive.
Fortunately, the cultural shift that has led to legalized medical and recreational marijuana in many states has accelerated the conversation around using cannabis as an alternative treatment for veterans. Even the former head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is urging Congress to reform federal cannabis laws as part of an effort to provide medical assistance for wounded veterans.
Speaking to C-Span, David Shulkin commented that medical cannabis could address the “crisis of suicides” among veterans. The most recent government report found that 17 veterans die of suicide every day, with an estimated 6,139 suicides on record in 2017. Medical cannabis could be the solution to preventing those tragedies.
Advocating for Medical Cannabis for Veterans
Rather than relying on potentially addictive painkillers and antidepressants, veterans can look to cannabis as an alternative, due to the cannabinoids’ ability to prevent “traumatic memories and nightmares, while also helping attain emotional wellbeing.” Even if you don’t live in a state in which medical cannabis is permitted, there are a number of online resources and advocacy groups that you are available at your fingertips.
Veterans Cannabis Project
Founded by a former U.S. Navy SEAL, the Veterans Cannabis Project seeks to change the conversation surrounding cannabis while advocating for its life-changing possibilities. In addition to offering educational resources and volunteer opportunities, the organization has a steady presence in the nation’s capital, where its Direct Action Missions “allow Veterans to share their stories with lawmakers, policy influencers and game changers.”
Veterans for Cannabis
Making its mission to “end the needless suicides and accidental overdoses that are plaguing our veterans,” the Veterans for Cannabis group offers access to CBD products online, and has teamed with DNA-sequence lab Medicinal Genomics and the veteran-owned Potent LTD to provide veterans with access to genetically certified, DNA sequenced cannabis strains.
(formerly Grow for Vets USA)
This group, founded by a U.S. Army veteran who tried cannabis to overcome a 10-year opioid dependency, offers educational resources and hemp CBD products that are shipped directly to veterans and first responders. Hero Grown says it has delivered more than $4 million worth of cannabis and CBD products to veterans since 2010. Additionally, the group lobbies state legislators to change the laws so that veterans have greater access to medical cannabis, and offers donation opportunities and corporate sponsorships to its network of supporters.
Roger Martin, HeroGrown Founder, discusses Opioid Addiction
Veterans Cannabis Group
California-based Veterans Cannabis Group offers educational resources and family support while advocating for veterans to have greater access to medical cannabis. The group has also co-produced a documentary series titled VETSGROW, which chronicles the struggles of veterans with PTSD and seeks to promote the use of cannabis as a medicinal alternative to prescription drugs in states where it is legally allowed.
Understanding Your Rights
Veterans who use medical cannabis to treat PTSD and other conditions may still face challenges navigating the laws of the workplace. However, it is important to understand your rights when it comes to your VA benefits, beginning with the fact that veterans WILL NOT be denied benefits because of marijuana use or participation in state marijuana programs. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has made that clear, though the agency reminds veterans that federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule One Controlled Substance.
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