Will Veterans be Granted Access to Medical Marijuana Through the VA?
As of right now, American veterans are denied access to medical marijuana by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). A new proposition has been introduced in order to change this, called House Resolution 5520, The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018. If this is passed, it would allow the VA to conduct research on medical marijuana, effectively opening up the doors for medical usage of cannabis for veterans. Because of independent and government funded research that has already been done, the public already knows the benefits of marijuana, and how it can combat things such as chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), two ailments veterans are commonly affected by.
The big problem with the VA and their stance on medical marijuana is that they explicitly state that any substance that is illegal on the federal level (marijuana) is prohibited from being used, recommended, prescribed, or endorsed by them. This is why House Resolution 5520 is so important. If it is passed, more research will be done by the government, which will hopefully give the government enough evidence to finally push the end marijuana prohibition nationwide. If marijuana can be legalized on the federal level, we will be the second G7 nation in the world to federally legalize marijuana, after Canada began legally selling marijuana in October of this year.
While independent studies and personal stories from veterans have shed light on the power of marijuana in treating PTSD and chronic pain, the first government approved FDA studies began earlier this year and are still awaiting results. Sue Sisley, MD, is a doctor conducting this study. Sisley was quoted saying, “I was dismissive and judgmental, then I started losing a lot of vets in my practice to suicide, and it became a big wake-up call... The veteran community has a higher rate of prescription drug overdose, and many vets discovered they can substitute cannabis for the more addictive medications they’ve been prescribed, which is how we started to examine this." From this quote we can see Dr. Sisley explain another way in which marijuana could and should be utilized, to help veterans as much as possible, and make a less harmful form of medicine easily available to them. We can only hope that the government approved studies find the same correlation that is reported in individual cases. If this all works out, the federal prohibition of marijuana could come to an end, therefore allowing veterans to be recipients of medical marijuana for their ailments.