Arizona Gets Sued Over Scarcity of Rural Medical Dispensaries
by Kat Helgeson
While cannabis is legal in 33 states for qualifying medical patients, the veteran men and women that put their lives on the line and fought for our country retired or not are unable to legally access these programs due to the gray area between federal and state laws.
Last month a congressional committee took steps geared towards opening access to medical cannabis for our veterans as well as increasing research into the efficacy of cannabinoid therapy in treating conditions such as PTSD and chronic pain. The House Veterans Affairs Committee approved two bills that were related to military veteran access to cannabis.
The Veteran’s Equal Access Act, which was approved with a 15 to 11 vote, would allow doctors at the US Department of Veteran Affairs to legally recommend medical cannabis to patients residing in states with legal medical cannabis programs.
The second bill known as the VA Medical Cannabis Research Act which was approved in a voice vote directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct clinical trials into the treatment of conditions commonly suffered by veterans utilizing cannabinoids therapies
Our military vets can drastically benefit from access to cannabis. Throughout the years, many former military men and women have spoken out about how cannabis has helped when nothing else has. From the chronic physical pain to the mental anguish and things such as PTSD, there are many areas in which science supports the efficiency of cannabis in bringing relief to individuals suffering from such conditions.
According to statistics, roughly 11 to 20% of all veterans who served in operations such as Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom have PTSD. When it comes to chronic pain among veterans in the United States, it is estimated that roughly 20 million vets suffer from chronic pain, which accounts for nearly 50% of all veterans that currently receive care at Veteran’s Health Administration facilities across the United States.
Representative Lou Correa stated the following during the full committee meeting before the vote.
“Our nation’s veterans have been calling for alternatives to opioids for decades. Cannabis has the potential to be that alternative. Many studies from around the world show cannabis’s effectiveness for treating PTSD and chronic pain. It is time we did the research and got our vets the medications they need. We owe it to every veteran to never stop looking for ways to treat their scars.”
The Director of Federal Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project brought up a great point as well during the Committee hearing. He stated that “it is indefensible to restrict veteran’s ability to access medical cannabis through their VA providers, while members of Congress can use their federally subsidized health insurance to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their doctors. Federal law should not criminalize Veterans for trying to find relief.”
Executive Director of NORML, Erik Altieri, stated that the “absolute least” we owe our vets is to ensure that they are taken care of when they return to civilian life. Seeing how access to cannabinoid therapies is now available to millions of civilians across the country, there is no reason why our veterans should not have the same access.
The bills which have been passed by the House committee are now headed to the Full House of Representatives for a floor vote. We can only hope that both of these pieces of legislation will receive the same support in that body as they did recently in the veteran’s committee.
Here at Veriheal, we have much respect and love for our veteran brothers and sisters. We want to thank every one of you for your sacrifices and assure you that there are millions of individuals that will not stop fighting for your right to access cannabis as you never stopped fighting for our freedoms!
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