Military vets may gain easier access to medical marijuana

The Veterans Equal Access Act is designed to lift the ban on VA doctors recommending medical marijuana to veterans who live in states where it is permitted.

According to the Huffington Post, the bill, introduced in Congress by Representative Earl Blumenauer and Dana Rohrabacher, would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana for their patients.

“Post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury are just as damaging and harmful as any injuries that are visible from the outside,” Blumenauer said. “Sometimes even more so because of the devastating effect they can have on a veteran’s family. We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows. It’s shameful.”

A 2012 report from the VA stated that almost 30 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from depression and PTSD. In a recent study, patients who smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons saw a reduction in PTSD symptoms, in some cases resulting in more than a 75% improvement.

There have been scientific finds that suggest that marijuana helps alleviate or lessen symptoms of anxiety, flashbacks and depression. However, Dr. George Greer, who was involved in the VA study, said, “A clinical trial needs to be done to see what proportion and what kind of PTSD patients benefit, with either cannabis or the main active ingredient of cannabis.”

Twenty-three states allow the medical use of marijuana, with ten of them allowing doctors to recommend it use for PTSD related systems. The plant remains illegal under federal law for all uses.

According to FOX Denver, the organization Operations Grow 4 Vets had a marijuana giveaway event in Denver last September. It drew over 500 people, with several being veterans.

Founder and Veteran Roger Martin said, “We’re really here to help them with their medical conditions. PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and chronic pain, other ailments, anything that involves pain.”

“Last year, I wouldn’t have been able to do this,” said Afghanistan veteran Brian Nance, about attending the event.” He survived an ambush about four years ago and now helps other vets get service dogs.

“I separated from my platoon and I jumped into a ravine and fell 40 feet and broke my back,” he said.

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