Our military veterans received some good news on Monday when a bill passed by the Senate included a provision that would gain them access to state legal medical marijuana without having to fear they would lose access to their medical benefits provided by the VA Healthcare System. The 2019 spending bill which includes the VA’s budget still needs further approval and there is concern that the provision could get pulled before being signed by President Trump, but all the same this is the closest veterans have gotten to being worry free about using state legal medical marijuana.
The opioid epidemic has hit military veterans particularly hard. Hard drugs over prescribed by VA doctors for many years led to many suicides, overdoses and other side effects that have caused irreparable damage. Those problems were worsened when VA doctors were given limited quotas on the amount of prescription opioid based drugs they could give out by the federal government in reaction to the awful statistics coming from the premature deaths of veterans. For many years now veterans have not had their PTSD and chronic pain issues properly cared for leading to more drastic statistics.
Many veterans have claimed that they see a lot of relief from conditions like PTSD and chronic pain with the aid of medical marijuana. It is not that medical marijuana is a complete solution to PTSD or chronic pain, but if it helps reduce the amount of opioid prescription drugs that veterans have to take, then it is accomplishing the objective of treating these conditions while not creating other equally, or in some cases worse, side effects.
A naval veteran recently was allowed to take medical marijuana while on federal lands to help treat seizures as well. Cannabidiol, a cannabinoid found in marijuana has shown very real abilities to reduce seizures in all sorts of conditions including epilepsy. Epidiolex is a drug created by GW Pharmaceuticals that recently received FDA approval which is the first such drug to receive FDA approval that is extracted from cannabis. A lot of the actions from the federal government and the VA has demonstrated a generally more relaxed attitude towards cannabis lately. Especially considering the STATES Act has been able to gain a lot of support from both democrats and republicans.
At the same time, there is still a lot of opposition to cannabis legalization around the country. Most notably is Attorney General Jeff Sessions who has been outright hostile towards marijuana proponents. He believes strongly that cannabis should remain a Schedule 1 substance and that people that violate the laws concerning cannabis should be incarcerated. But, even he has softened a touch about cannabis saying earlier this year that the justice department is not focused on small misdemeanors associated with cannabis.
While the the provision on the budget bill for 2019 is along for the ride now, it does not mean that it will stay a part of the legislation. It is at the very least another sign of the softening attitude towards marijuana here in the United States.