by Al Byrne, for Patients Out of Time
In the current patchwork of Medical Marijuana laws and regulations across the country, clinical cannabis use is not decided by the military patients’ need for medicine, but rather where they live. This practice is, of course, totally illogical. Realizing that Veterans are not being treated for their injuries properly, is not surprising to me. I am a Vietnam Veteran myself.
Treatment by geography can be looked on as a win for some Vets. Before this protocol was adopted by the Veterans Health Administration, in July of 2010, there was no cannabis allowed medicinally for any service member.
The change in policy, VHA Directive 2010-035, allows those Veterans who live in states where cannabis is legally available to use their medicine without fear of losing cherished and earned benefits. The caveat is that they cannot possess or use cannabis on federal property and may only medicate for symptoms approved by their state of residence.
This leads to another challenging process. A Veteran in Oregon cannot use cannabis for PTS(d), while a Vet in New Mexico can. This is because of the variance between states of “acceptable” diagnoses allowed by the individual state laws, and the people who are responsible for granting or denying cannabis to Veterans do not talk across state borders. Veterans for Common Sense found that more than half of all Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans treated in the VA hospitals since 2002 have been diagnosed (at least preliminarily) with mental health problems.
Those making these decisions are, in effect, practicing medicine without a license. They are law enforcement, lawyers and lobbyists. They are not MD’s or RN’s and often have little grasp of modern medicine’s discovery of the endocannabinoid system universal to all mammals and essential to life. Most are equally ignorant of the worldwide science concerning cannabis. Because of research validating the effectiveness of cannabis for managing post traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries, soldiers of Czechoslovakia and Israel, allies of the US in Iraq, can be prescribed cannabis as medicine.
We hear every day how Americans should support our troops. The time has come to give them the support they really deserve when it comes to medicinal cannabis.