Marijuana for veterans has always been a hotly debated topic with a number of competing interests. The veterans are actually in a more difficult situation than the average citizen. Because if veterans are caught using marijuana, they will lose all of their benefits that they fought for. They have no option and many have lost their rights because they smoked marijuana when they shouldn’t have. The group overseeing the policy are known as the Veterans Association (VA), which is misleading in the sense that it does not really represent the veterans, while, in this instance at least, opposes their wishes.
An Unfair Condition
For many conditions, in particular PTSD, marijuana is the health compound of choice with the fewest side effects, if any. For this reason, it is unfair that veterans are estopped from accessing any form of marijuana. The situation is compounded by the fact that the alternatives to marijuana are opioids, which have been taking quite a beating the past few months. Estimates are now up, with research indicating that opioids kill up to 30,000 people in the United States every year. Opioids are proving to be incredibly addictive and also unnecessary, with links being uncovered between big pharma, government, the health care system and many dead patients as a result of the opioid policy. But for veterans, they have no option except to accept a drug that does them as much harm as good. Marijuana has been proven to reduce addiction to opioids, with the number of prescriptions falling in every state where medical marijuana was made legal.
It is technically true that the laws of the Federal government prevent doctors from prescribing marijuana to veterans. Because no doctors in the USA are allowed to prescribe marijuana, the issue has been circumvented in the sense that the doctors make a recommendation for marijuana which the marijuana medical dispensary then fulfills. This is what happens in all states, though there are some doctors who say they cannot recommend patients as qualified to take marijuana. While these doctors might be construed as being incredibly dense, in the sense that tens of thousands of doctors are proving every day that they can in fact recommend marijuana to patients, this is not the case. These doctors are using a fake excuse to prevent their patients from obtaining medical marijuana for their own insidious reasons, most probably related to the pharmaceutical complex. But the VA seem to be taking this stance too. The VA website was updated to say that:
“The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is required to follow all federal laws including those regarding marijuana. As long as the Food and Drug Administration classifies marijuana as Schedule One VA health care providers may not recommend it or assist Veterans to obtain it”
This is not true course. There is no law that prevents VA doctors from recommending marijuana, as opposed to prescribing it. The same laws apply to VA doctors as opposed to other doctors. But the VA has made a decision in how it wants to proceed. The VA has always been considerably anti-marijuana and very pro opioids, and this policy seems to be continuing despite the dangers of opioids. Money is most definitely involved, as always.
Research for Veterans
A group of 10 U.S. House members is pushing the Trump administration to begin researching medical marijuana’s potential benefits for military veterans struggling to cope with war wounds. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) “is uniquely situated to pursue research on the impact of medical marijuana on veterans suffering from chronic pain and PTSD given its access to world class researchers, the population it serves, and its history of overseeing and producing research resulting in cutting-edge medical treatments,” the group of lawmakers who sit on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs wrote on Thursday in a letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin. It is good news that house members are weighting in on the issue and pushing for change, as they are more likely to get it done than the veterans advocacy groups whose pleas have fallen on deaf ears for many years.
Recently, medical cannabis advocates and veterans’ groups like the American Legion have increased pressure on VA to stop blocking federally-approved researchers from recruiting veterans for research on medical cannabis. One such study on marijuana’s effects on PTSD has been prevented from reaching veterans at the VA hospital in Phoenix.
Two Lost Battles
The fact of the matter that all that is stopping the VA from allowing its doctors to recommend marijuana to veterans is its own internal memo, which secretary David Shulkin could change, if he wanted. The memo sets out the policy and the VA are saying that their hands are tied due to the internal policy that they themselves create, which makes no sense whatsoever unless ulterior motives are taken into account.
The American Legion, a group consisting of hundreds of thousands of army veterans, have been pressing Shulkin on the issue. But never has a more blatant case of corruption been seen, as he fails to respond to their letters and says that marijuana “might” have some medical benefits and that congressional action is needed before he can do anything to expand the access of medical marijuana for veterans. This is, of course, a lie, and the reluctant admission at this late stage that marijuana “might” have some few medical benefits is brazen in the extreme. As is the idea that more research is needed before marijuana should be granted to veterans, a privilege that everybody else is allowed in states where medical marijuana is legal. Yet another time delaying tactic in a war of attrition while veteran forces drop daily. The battle against Shulkin and the VA is the second war to be lost by the US vets, as Shulkin singlehandedly denies medical marijuana to the very group that need, and deserve, it most.