Medical Marijuana and Veterans

A growing body of evidence supports medical marijuana as a valid treatment for a wide number of health conditions. One of the emerging conditions that cannabis is shown to benefit is that of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly diagnosed in America’s military veterans.

Veterans across the country have used medical marijuana, either under a medical professional’s recommendation or in unapproved means. Unfortunately, a policy of the U.S. Veterans Administration forbids the use of medical marijuana in military veterans, despite positive evidence that cannabinoids can help treat many of the symptoms of PTSD. Despite a push from many states to legalize medical cannabis cultivation and use, marijuana still remains a Schedule 1 drug according to federal laws. This creates unnecessary hurdles for America’s veterans, many who have come to depend on the health benefits of cannabis to reduce their PTSD symptoms.

There may be hope on the horizon for veterans. In June 2016, Congress passed an amendment that allows VA physicians to recommend medical marijuana for pain and PTSD in states where cannabis is legal for medical uses. It is unclear if the current Administration will continue to approve this amendment, but many analysts suggest that it has the support of both chambers of Congress. The amendment gained support in part due to the sharp increase in opioid-related deaths, especially among veterans prescribed powerful drugs to combat chronic pain. Medical marijuana represents a far safer alternative to traditional painkillers, and physicians across the country are seeking ways to improve patient outcomes while protecting those patients from potentially dangerous medications.

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