Medical cannabis use among veterans has been a hot topic since states first started legalizing marijuana for medical use. While drug-reform proponents believe the plant has the potential to help veterans deal with chronic pain and mood disorders such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, others say it is federally prohibited for good reasons, with one being that it is a gateway drug with no medical application. This is despite research debunking this reason on numerous occasions.
The latter opinion seems to be shared by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the government body in charge of administrating benefit programs for military veterans and their families. The agency, which prohibits veterans from using medical marijuana at all VA centers, has released a statement noting that it will not support medical marijuana treatments for veterans as part of a new suicide-prevention grants program, which will offer eligible veterans suicide-prevention services.
Due to the nature of war and what continued exposure to high levels of stress does to the human psyche, army veterans have a much higher suicide rate compared to the rest of the population. Additionally, a study conducted in 2017 also found that veterans with substance-abuse disorders had a heightened risk of suicide compared to veterans without a substance-use disorder.
Plenty of veterans and the service organizations that represent them state that cannabis possesses various benefits. Many have admitted that marijuana has the potential to alleviate various medical conditions that are common within the veteran community, including mood disorders. Despite these testimonies and existing research, the VA still prohibits the use of medical cannabis among former military members. Since it is a federal agency, it is legally required to use treatment practices and approaches that are consistent with federal law.
The VA noted that since cannabis was still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means that it has no recognized medical applications, it could not legally provide support for treatments that involve the use of marijuana.
This classification has been a constant thorn in the side of drug-reform advocates and veteran-service organizations. Federal prohibition has significantly held back cannabis research and has, as a result, made it even harder for researchers to learn more about the potential benefits and side effects of this herb.
Still, veteran service organizations continue to advocate for more research into cannabis on the grounds that military veterans stand to benefit from these alternative treatments manufactured from the cannabis plant by state-legal entities such as Red White & Bloom Brands Inc. (CSE: RWB) (OTCQX: RWBYF).
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