On this Veterans Day, when America honors all who have served in the military, it is worth thinking about those who were injured while serving. Chronic pain and PTSD affect hundreds of thousands of war veterans. Nearly 60% of veterans returning home from service in the Middle East live with some form of chronic pain. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 11 to 30% of veterans suffer from PTSD.
Members of Congress are aware of this problem and are working to resolve it. Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California introduced HR 2588, the Medical Veterans Safe Harbor Act. Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate. This law would allow physicians in the VA to discuss and recommend cannabis to veterans in states that have established medical cannabis programs.
In addition, the House and Senate are considering the VA Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2021. This will require the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct clinical trials of the effects of medical cannabis on health outcomes for veterans diagnosed with chronic pain who have been diagnosed with PTSD.
I strongly support both legislation and have contacted veteran sites locally and nationally to offer our assistance if the search law becomes law. Our veterans deserve the same access to life-changing medical cannabis as non-veterans.
As the CEO of the first and largest center licensed to distribute medical cannabis in Delaware, I know that there are many myths about cannabis. Here are the facts. It’s a wonderful herbal medicine. Helps control pain. It does not have undesirable side effects of other medicines. It is not as addictive as prescribed opioids.
Pharmaceutical cannabis has been shown to give PTSD patients relief from their painful feelings or memories.
First State Compassion helps many veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain. One of our patients, who had been in the US Army for 26 years, had PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and chronic pain. He tried managing his symptoms with six and seven drugs, but instead of relieving his pain, the drugs were hurting him and affecting his kidney function. That’s when he went outside the VA to get certified for his medical marijuana card.
On this Veterans Day, I urge all Delaware residents not only to think about our wounded veterans, but to take action. Representative Lisa Blunt of Rochester, Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons have all been supportive of cannabis-friendly legislation in the past. Call their offices and ask them to vote for the Veterans Safe Marijuana Act and the Veterans Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2021.
Mark Lally is the CEO of First State Compassion, a cannabis distribution center.