For veterans, access to cannabis-based medicine can be a matter of life and death…
In response to the coronavirus crisis, states from coast to coast have been shutting down non-essential businesses. Cannabis dispensaries, however, have remained open.
That’s because medical and recreational cannabis retailers have been deemed essential; a huge step forward for the cannabis industry and, more importantly, for patients who will not lose access to treatment.
But in Massachusetts, that “essential” classification was only applied to medical dispensaries, forcing recreational dispensaries to shut down.
As a result, veterans in the state lost access to their medicine – bringing to light the flawed system that denies medical cannabis access to the bravest among us.
Veterans Face Discrimination for Cannabis Use
A 2020 survey by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that 21% of the organization’s members are currently using cannabis as a therapy.
But veterans who use cannabis face discrimination beyond that of the typical cannabis consumer.
And, as it turns out, that discrimination is largely due to archaic policies put in place by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).
The VA is an organization that was created with the intention of helping veterans.
Yet, it has stood against protections for veterans who lawfully use cannabis at what seems like every opportunity.
Last year, it opposed legislation that would protect veterans from losing their benefits based on lawful cannabis use, legislation that would allow VA healthcare providers to make medical cannabis recommendations, and legislation that would require the VA to conduct much-needed clinical research into the effects of medical cannabis as a treatment.
It also maintains a policy that allows veterans who work in the cannabis industry to be denied home loans.
The VA did all that, even though cannabis has shown to be an effective therapeutic option for a whole host of different conditions that veterans experience at a disproportionate rate. Among those is PTSD, which affects 65% of veterans who have experienced service-related injuries.
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Cannabis-based medicine can help patients reduce or completely erase the need for opioids, too. And for veterans, who are at a significantly higher risk of opioid addiction compared to the general population, that could be lifesaving.
Just watch this veteran’s recovery story from the Disabled American Veterans organization.
For veterans, access to cannabis-based medicine can be a matter of life and death.
Nine-in-ten adults in the U.S. are in favor of legalizing medical cannabis, and that support is strong on both sides of the aisle – with 87% of Republicans and 96% of Democrats in favor.
So, why aren’t veterans able to access it lawfully in states where it has been legalized?
Increasing veterans’ access to medical cannabis will save lives while bringing in more medical cannabis patients – and their cash – into the market.
As Executive Director Don Yocham likes to say, this is one obvious way we can do well by doing good.
There are many veterans’ organizations out there that are worthy of your attention, so we recommend doing your own research in your local area to find ways to support this cause.
Donating money to non-profit organizations that advocate for increased access to cannabis for veterans isn’t the only way to get involved.
Something as simple as signing a petition is a great place to get started. And becoming an advocate yourself is a great option, too.
11 responses to “Veterans Need Increased Access to Cannabis-Based Medicine”
April 08 2020