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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Doing all we can

A piece written by MSgt Thomas Vance USAF Ret.:

A recent article in the Kentucky Enquirer’s USA Today pages titled, ‘Military Efforts to Treat Mental Illness Fall Short’, dated 21 Feb 2014, details the findings of a committee of 13 experts appointed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.  The researchers concluded that, “There is no substantive indication of effectiveness (of suicide prevention programs) and more importantly, there’s no evidence of an enduring impact”.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs about a thousand Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder each week.

Sadly the treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not on the radar of those enforcing our drug laws.  Here again we see the beautiful odiousness of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act in preventing any actions that might show marijuana is either effective medicine or safe for use.  A Food and Drug Administration approved protocol for a study of marijuana for symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in US Veterans has been on hold for over 3 months waiting for the US Public Health Service to sell researchers the Government approved marijuana for the study.  In the 40 plus years since enactment of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act the US Public Health Service has never provided the marijuana for any research and so far not for this Study either.  No ‘approved’ research, thus allowing the Government to claim they can’t legalize or reschedule marijuana because there is no Government approved research showing marijuana is safe or has any medical value!  Actually there is plenty of evidence, some of it gold standard research, showing the safety and efficacy of marijuana, just none supporting the ridiculous claims of the Government.

Happily though, many Veterans aren’t waiting and are turning to medical marijuana for help.  Many are reporting that marijuana has helped them to live with and control their conditions giving them a more normal life; some saying it saved their lives.  Along with the tons of anecdotal evidence from Veterans themselves there is the unexplainable drop in suicide rates in states that have medical marijuana laws.  There is nothing that has changed in these states other than medical marijuana being available to the citizens to account for the drop in suicide rates.

We could easily change all this. According to the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the head of the Justice Department can, with a stroke of a pen reschedule marijuana.  Or we could just allow the Veterans access through the Veterans Administration.  Do a voucher program with a local marijuana pharmacy for Veterans in States with medical marijuana laws and for Veterans not in States with medical marijuana laws, we can treat them the same as the survivors of the old Compassionate Care Program who still receive a tin of medical marijuana from the Government marijuana farm in Mississippi every month to treat their conditions.

We use statistics from the Veterans who use the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System all the time in studies and research.  Why not believe the Veterans this time.  Give them the medicine they swear is doing them good and see what happens.  It’s not like it’s a medicine no one has used before!  Veterans are using marijuana as medicine as I am writing this and have for 50 years that I can personally attest to and they pretty well know what the results of an honest study will show.

The citizens of 20 States and the District of Columbia have been allowed access to this medicine for over a decade.  Our Veterans deserve no less!  To have a treatment that has been shown to be effective and to forbid access to it for those who need it most is beyond the limits of decency and morality!  It is a black mark on the report card of how we treat those who have sacrificed most for this country and suffer for that sacrifice the rest of their lives.  It is long past time for the Veterans Administration to begin providing medical marijuana to Veterans with qualifying conditions.  To do any less is a breach of the promise to do all we can, as stated in the mission statement of the Veterans Administration, to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise, ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphan’.

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