Americans in 33 states and the District of Columbia have legal access to medical marijuana under a doctor’s authorization. But this same access is often lacking for many military veterans. That is because the current policy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs explicitly prohibits V.A. physicians “from completing forms or registering veterans for participation in state-approved [medical marijuana] program[s].”
Military veterans who participate in a state’s medical marijuana access program frequently report substituting cannabis for alcohol and other controlled substances, according to data published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Nearly half of all respondents said that they use medical cannabis in place of other prescription medications.
Seventy-five percent of military veterans say that they would consider using either “cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option,” according to member survey data compiled by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Available data documents that cannabis is effective in the treatment of chronic pain and may potentially mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, along with other conditions commonly facing veterans.
United States Rep. Timothy Waltz (D-MN), along with over 30 bipartisan co-sponsors, has introduced legislation, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans.
Members of the US House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs are demanding the Department of Veterans Affairs facilitate protocols to assess the efficacy of medical cannabis in veterans suffering from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress.
This has been an exceptionally busy week at the state and federal level for marijuana law reform. Click below to get the latest news and to find out how you can #TakeAction.
The majority of the US Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday cast votes in favor of expanding medical cannabis access to United States veterans. The committee vote marks the first time that a majority of any body of the US Senate has ever decided in favor of increased cannabis access.
The administration of oral THC mitigates symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation. Researchers reported, “The intervention caused a statistically significant improvement in global symptom severity, sleep quality, frequency of nightmares, and PTSD hyperarousal symptoms.” They concluded, “Orally absorbable delta-9-THC was safe and well tolerated by patients with chronic PTSD.”
Michigan physicians may now authorize cannabis for the treatment of post traumatic stress. Post-traumatic stress syndrome is an anxiety disorder that is estimated to impact some eight million Americans annually. To date, there are no pharmaceutical treatments specifically designed or approved to target symptoms of PTSD.
Patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, Crohn’s disease, and other debilitating disorders will now be eligible for cannabis therapy, under legislation approved yesterday absent the Governor’s signature. The new law expands the list of qualifying conditions for which a Maine physician may legally recommend cannabis to include “post-traumatic stress disorder,” “inflammatory bowel disease” (such as Crohn’s and/or ulcerative colitis), and “dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders and other diseases causing severe and persistent muscle spasms” (such as Parkinson’s disease and/or Huntington’s disease).