Medical Marijuana Could Help Treat PTSD in U.S. Veterans
Medical marijuana and PTSD already have a positive relationship. Many of the symptoms, such as depression, anxiety and insomnia, are all treatable with a proper cannabis regimen.
It is no secret that PTSD is particularly common among veterans, which is why ETF Daily News argues that veterans should be given easy access to the drug.
But despite the fact that veterans arguably are among the most deserving groups for this key treatment – considering what they saw and endured – bureaucratic red tape makes access difficult.
Veterans at Increased Risk of Suicide
Following the April deaths of two veterans in Georgia who committed suicide within the timespan of two days, PTSD among military personnel gained renewed attention. Sadly, this is but one example of a trend that is very much prevalent, but people seem to avoid addressing.
According to ETF Daily News:
“With both deaths occurring near hospitals servicing the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA was very much in the spotlight, as the media and citizens tried to make sense of the far-too-common tragedy of veteran suicides. About 20 veterans take their own lives every day in the U.S., according to the VA.”
Based on the 2017 U.S. suicide statistics, there were a total of 129 suicides per day. Assuming the numbers remain more or less the same, this means veterans account for about 15.5% of suicides in the U.S. every year.
How Marijuana Can Help with PTSD
It is important to establish that cannabis will not cure PTSD. Getting past that takes time and psychiatric treatment. Even then, shaking the condition entirely is highly unlikely.
That being said, marijuana is a much better, safer alternative to the conventional medication sanctioned and prescribed by Veterans Affairs, such as Ambien, Prozac, Nortriptylene and Effexor.
Mychol Robirds, a veteran who was severely injured by a suicide bomber during a 2004 tour of duty in Iraq, noticed upon his return that his personal, family and professional lives were falling apart due to the lasting effects of his trauma.
After being diagnosed with PTSD, Robirds began a cocktail of prescription medications, stating that he took “…well over 10,000 pills in less than 10 years.”
The bottom line is that the medications did little to help Robirds lead a functional life. Consequently, he tried self-medicating with marijuana.
While the results were not 100% perfect, Robirds found that it helped aid in sleep and prevented the nightmares that had “terrorized him for years,” according to ETF Daily News.
José Belén, another veteran, developed PTSD after seeing “the horrors of war,” including watching a child die right in front of him. The experiences left him scarred and unable to function.
Making matters worse, his VA doctor accidentally prescribed him a mixture of medications that created suicidal ideation – an error she later admitted to.
Belén found that his experiences left him a shell of his former self, emotionally detached and unable to function normally. After trying cannabis, he noticed critical improvements. In a brief but compelling statement, he says:
“[Cannabis] allowed me to be the husband my wife deserves and the father my children deserve to have.”
Roadblock to Cannabis Access
While Veterans Affairs is more than happy to provide medical care to its patients, it is limited to conventional medications. There are two reasons for this – legal complications and lack of interest.
“In short, the VA is not allowed to prescribe cannabis because it’s illegal on a federal level. While this could be changed, there still seems to be a lack of political willpower to do so — even though more than 65 percent of the American population supports cannabis legalization.”
With no backing from Veterans Affairs, advocates are left to their own devices, setting up organizations and initiatives to make medical marijuana accessible to veterans.
WeedAdvisor’s Concern for Vulnerable Patients
By now, our stance on medical marijuana is abundantly clear. Stories about veterans and PTSD only solidify our resolve to help those who need it most. While opponents constantly talk about marijuana being deadly, stories like those above clearly prove that it is much more likely to save lives, not end them.
We can only hope that progress in U.S. will eventually give veterans the alternative they deserve, especially considering the sacrifices they have made in service of their country.