Pages tagged "veterans"


Veterans Equal Access Amendment Would Allow Veterans Administration Physicians To Recommend Medical Cannabis

US Senator CochranIn a landslide vote, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations voted to the add the Veterans Equal Access Amendment (VEAA) to the FY2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilConVA) Appropriations bill, which sets the budget for the Veterans Administration (VA). The VEAA would end the current  gag order preventing VA physicians from recommending or even discussing medical cannabis to veterans in states where medical cannabis programs exist. The bi-partisan amendment was introduced by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and succeeded by a vote margin of 18-12.

The victorious vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee is nothing short of historic for medical marijuana patients. Although states have been implementing their own medical marijuana programs since 1996, the Senate has never officially weighed in on the subject. Now the Senate Appropriation Committee has done so by affirming that the gag order on V.A. physicians should be lifted. 

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Veterans for Safe Access and Compassionate Care supports Blumenauer's 'Veterans Equal Access Act'

Veterans_Suicide.jpgVeterans for Safe Access and Compassionate Care is honored to support the bipartisan bill, Veterans Equal Access Act. I personally thank Representative Blumenauer, Representative Rohrabacher and all cosigners for taking a leading role in removing obstructive policies from the Veterans Affairs Healthcare system. The passage of the Veterans Equal Access Act will assist the VA in meeting their core values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence. Passage of this bill will also fulfill President Lincoln's desire “to care for him who shall have borne the battle,” in which the VA’s mission statement is based. 

Of the 23 states that allow medical marijuana, 10 allow its use for symptom relief of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My home state of Massachusetts, a global leader in healthcare, allows the medical doctor to determine if their patient’s condition warrants the use of medical marijuana as long as the benefits of use outweigh the consequences. Despite being the grandchild of a WWII P.O.W., a veteran of the Iraq War, a sufferer of chronic pain and a resident in a state that allows medical marijuana, my Veterans Affairs (VA) doctor is forbidden to even mention the potential benefits of medical marijuana.  

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For Myself and Other Veterans Medical Marijuana is the Difference

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Think about that number for a moment. Sadly, a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) finds that 22 American lives are taken every single day as a result of military conflicts overseas. Except these men and women aren't dying on the battlefield, they are dying right here on American soil. From the tiniest towns to the biggest cities, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters are taking their own lives to end the pain and suffering.

Let's put things into perspective. On average, there were close to 4,150 American troops killed during each year of the Vietnam War. In comparison, the VA estimates nearly twice as many veterans killed themselves in 2010, as a direct result of their military service. Most of these forgotten heroes are over 50 years old. Nearly all suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or have a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The VA has struggled with these problems for over a decade. So, what if there was a medicine that could save just one of these American heroes. What if we could save more than that?

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Obama Stance on Safe Access Disappoints Veterans

On Memorial Day, a grass-roots group of veterans expressed their disappointment in the Obama administration's stance on access to medical cannabis. Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access petitioned the White House to allow veterans access to medical cannabis to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, receiving over 8000 signatures on WhiteHouse.gov. The reply was disappointing.

President Obama's Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske introduced his long-delayed response by lamenting "substance abuse" issues that trouble many veterans, and then asserted that medical marijuana cannot treat any symptom. This from an administration that refuses to allow research on the health benefits of cannabis!

Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access were very disappointed in the administration's response - both that access to medical cannabis will not be provided to veterans of America's armed forces, and the tone of the Drug Czar's long-delayed response. They said in a statement:
We Veterans petitioned the Obama Administration to: "Allow United States Disabled Military Veterans access to medical marijuana to treat their PTSD."

The White House response to our petition was very disappointing. We asked for a change in policy. To have our petition answered by the drug czar,an ex policeman, is most inappropriate given the drug czar is bound by law to ONLY discuss current law and has no power to discuss policy change with the public. Even the lowest ranking staffer at the White House or anyone from the Veterans Health Authority would have been more appropriate.

Al Byrne, retired Naval Officer and co-founder of VMCA, was blunt in his assessment of the White House concern for injured Veterans:

"Vets have used cannabis for PTS since the Revolutionary War. We know what we need and to be told by our President, the Commander in Chief, that he does not care about those he has sent to war by denying medicine to the wounded is unconscionable."

The Department of Veterans Affairs is also now in direct conflict with the White House.

According to the Veterans Affairs, Undersecretary of Health in correspondence with our Executive Director, Michael Krawitz: "The provider (VA) will take the use of medical marijuana into account in all prescribing decisions, just as the provider would for any other medication.

On Memorial Day, all Americans acknowledge the sacrifices our veterans have made for our freedom and security. President Obama missed an opportunity to value veterans' sacrifices by allowing them safe access to all therapies recommended by their doctors.

Research Approved to Study Effects of Medical Marijuana on PTSD



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a lengthy approval process, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  has granted research to study the effects of medical marijuana on people living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This summer, the research group MAPS was given the go-ahead by FDA to conduct a:
Placebo-Controlled, Triple-Blind, Randomized Crossover Pilot Study of the Safety and Efficacy of Five Different Potencies of Smoked or Vaporized Marijuana in 50 Veterans with Chronic, Treatment-Resistant [PTSD].

The effects of medical marijuana on PTSD has been a growing area of inquiry given the difficulty of treating the condition and its prevalence among U.S. troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as others. PTSD affects as many as 7.8 percent of Americans and according to the New York Times:
Currently, nearly a third of the 4,982 patients approved for medical marijuana in New Mexico suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, more than any other condition, according to the state’s health department.

Preceding final approval by the federal government to conduct PTSD research using medical marijuana, the Journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience published an article in June 2011 on “The role of cannabinoids [the compounds found in the marijuana plant] in modulating emotional and emotional memory processes in the hippocampus.”

Unfortunately, MAPS still needs approval from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) before it can begin trials, but Americans for Safe Access looks forward to the eventual completion of this research and the greater acceptability of using marijuana to treat a debilitating condition that affects millions of people in the U.S.