Give Veterans What They Want

Written by Adam English
Posted May 29, 2018 at 4:31PM

A seemingly endless parade of motorcyclists, 645,000 fake poppies, concerts, and countless smaller events.

Downtown Washington, D.C., was inundated with people to mark Memorial Day and honor veterans and those who have served and sacrificed.

The Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride was by far the most impressive. Started in 1987 by two Vietnam vets, the event has grown to an estimated half a million this year.

Amid everything going on, a new trend has emerged in recent years. Vets are openly advocating for something that would have been taboo not long ago, in spite of it being a life-or-death issue for far too many.

They’re openly talking about and pushing for legalization of medical marijuana as an alternative to the pill-based treatment veterans are forced to pursue through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This year offers them some hope, as the overwhelming support of vets and their families is finally forcing politicians to pay attention and progress to be made.

Vets Want Medical Marijuana

The recent sea change in support of medical marijuana across the nation is even more pronounced when it comes to veterans and their families.

A 2017 survey from the American Legion, bolstered by its status as a congressionally chartered veterans group, revealed:

  • 92% of veteran households support further research into the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis.
  • 83% of veterans said they support the legalization of cannabis nationwide.
  • 82% of veterans expressed a desire for it to become a federally legal treatment option.
  • 22% of veterans currently use some form of medical marijuana for a condition.

There is a big problem, though. VA health benefits do not allow medical marijuana to be used as an alternative to the regimen of pills that VA doctors dole out to deal with PTSD, chronic pain, and depression.

It has become the new “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Veterans have been worried that admitting to use of medical marijuana could jeopardize their VA benefits and treatments.

Doctors have been even more explicit in why they won’t talk about it: it would cost them their job due to federal prohibitions.

Finally, that is starting to change.

New Guidelines, New Bill

Late last year, VA doctors were finally cleared to talk about medical marijuana to their patients.

Vets and doctors can talk openly about the pros and cons and possible drug interactions if the vet is enrolled in a state-approved medical marijuana program.

Plus, the VA has made it clear in no uncertain terms that being enrolled in a state-approved program will not prohibit a vet from participating in VA health programs.

It certainly isn’t everything vets want, as prescriptions cannot be written, but it is as far as the VA could go under current laws and finally brings the issues involved out of a bizarre, federalism-induced gray zone.

The beginning of the end to that limit is now in sight as well. The Veterans Affairs Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018 passed Congress earlier this month.

The VA is now the first federal agency that will conduct research into the potential benefits of medical marijuana.

It is a small step, and one that can get mired in bureaucracy, but the pressure from veterans is overwhelming the antiquated resistance in D.C., and momentum is building.

Give Vets What They Want

Representative Phil Roe, a Tennessee Republican who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and is a medical doctor, argued, “It is clear that medical research into the safety and efficacy of cannabis usage for medical purposes is timely, necessary, and widely supported by the veteran community.”

He specifically mentioned veterans suffering from PTSD while advocating for the study and sees a much greater benefit to the study. It could easily apply to far more than veterans.

While studies in Canada and elsewhere abroad have shown clear advantages to using medical marijuana to manage PTSD, chronic pain, and depression, this federal study is exactly what politicians and doctors nationwide need as a scientific basis to state the obvious.

Medical marijuana works. It leads to outcomes for veteran and civilian patients that are sustainable over the long term. It costs less than pharmaceuticals.

And, most importantly, it reduces dependence on opioids and appears to reduce alcohol and other forms of drug abuse.

The writing is slowly being chiseled on the wall. Pressure from vets, their families, and doctors will break down the rules that force the VA to use inferior and addictive pill regimens.

The parasitic monopoly of pharmaceutical companies involved in the pain industry is breaking down on the state level already. The sooner that begins in earnest on the national level, the better we’ll all be for it.

Especially our veterans.

Take care,

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Adam English

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Adam's editorial talents and analysis drew the attention of senior editors at Outsider Club, which he joined in mid-2012. While he has acquired years of hands-on experience in the editorial room by working side by side with ex-brokers, options floor traders, and financial advisors, he is acutely aware of the challenges faced by retail investors after starting at the ground floor in the financial publishing field. For more on Adam, check out his editor's page

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