20 Million Veterans Blocked from Receiving Safe, Legal, Affordable Access to Medical Cannabis
20 million American veterans are blocked from receiving safe, legal, and affordable access to medical cannabis.
My dad is 57, and he spent more than half of his life serving in the military. He retired five years ago. On top of that, he raised my two older brothers and me, which was a full-time job in itself.
He worked hard. He did the best he could to excel in both his work and home life. He was only in the military for a few years before starting a family at 22 years old. He needed to work hard to support this family and advance in his career. And the military helped him learn a lot of skills that helped him take care of his family.
But more than 30 years in the military took a toll on his body. He’s had back and shoulder problems for some time. He used to be better at powering through the pain, but in the past few years, his pain has become hard to manage and difficult to bear.
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Like most people when they go to the doctor in hopes of feeling better, he went to the doctor to get a solution to his pain. After all, he worked for over 30 years, so it was time he enjoy his life after work and do all the things he never had time to do.
But instead, he got prescribed a bunch of pills to manage his pain. My dad has never been one to be reliant on medication, and he didn’t want to start. He was hesitant to take the pain medication he was being prescribed.
This is an all too common situation. My dad’s story isn’t that extraordinary.
Veterans Need More Options for Medical Treatment
20 million American veterans are blocked from receiving safe, legal, and affordable access to medical cannabis. Thirty U.S. states and Washington, D.C., have legalized cannabis for adult use.
According to a Pew Research Center survey, about six in ten Americans (61%) say the use of marijuana should be legalized. That’s more than half of the nation that believes marijuana should be legalized — and for good reason.
But there are still some people and organizations that are resisting change and refusing to alter their viewpoints.
Doctors who are employed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are allowed to discuss medical cannabis with their patients in states where marijuana is already legal, but they are not able to prescribe cannabis — not even in states like California and Colorado.
Change is happening right now. It’s time to embrace it so we can better the lives of people who suffer every day.
In the United States, veterans are two times more likely to experience accidental overdose. In addition, we lose more than 20 of them to suicide every day.
And cannabis could help these veterans. A survey conducted by the American Legion in 2017 reported that 82% of all veterans and caregivers want to have cannabis available as a federally legal treatment. 92% support research in medical cannabis, and 20% of veterans report that they are already using cannabis to treat their medical or physical conditions.
Why is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ignoring that cannabis could be an alternative treatment for veterans who are suffering? These men and women have fought and protected our country, so why are we preventing them from having all options available when it comes to their mental and physical well being?
Slowly but Surely, We’re Making Progress
Toward the end of June this year, the Senate approved medical marijuana for military veterans and advanced hemp legalization.
Under this legislation, U.S. military veterans will be allowed to receive recommendations for medical marijuana from government doctors.
The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 86 to 5. This legislation will also protect veterans from losing their government benefits because of cannabis use that is legal under state law.
Slowly but surely, our nation is shifting toward being an advocate for legal marijuana, especially since evidence continues to surface about the benefits marijuana can have on a person’s life.
If my dad were to have the option to choose medical cannabis to help him with his ailments, he would be able to live his life pain-free, and he wouldn’t have to be concerned with the potential of getting addicted or dependent on pain medication.
Every day, more than 115 people in the U.S. die of opioid overdoses. Between 8% and 12% of patients prescribed opioids for pain develop an opioid use disorder. Those are frightening statistics, and I wouldn’t want anyone close to me — or anyone at all — to have to go through an opioid addiction or overdose.
Human life is extremely valuable, and if there are options available that allow for a safe way to manage pain and reduce this nation’s current opioid epidemic, then we should take those options.
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