Medical Marijuana Can Help Veterans With PTSD; Congress Says No!

By: Nicole Bieniasz

So Congress says “no smokie no ganja, no matter if it helps or not”. Doctors at the Department of Veteran Affairs were forbidden (under current law) from prescribing or recommending medical marijuana to returning vets diagnosed with PTSD, even in the 23 states where it’s legal.  A house bill that could have reversed the law and at least allowed doctors to recommend the “herbal” remedy has failed by a slim margin (210-213) last week.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) encouraged fellow Republicans asking that they support allowing free discussion about medical marijuana between veterans and their doctors.

“As Republicans, we supposedly believe in the doctor-patient relationship. But apparently some of my colleagues believe that relationship is not relevant when it comes to VA doctors and their patients,” Rohrabacher said during floor debate.

“It is criminal that we send our men and women off to war where their minds and bodies are broken and then deny them the ability to obtain a recommendation from a legitimate VA doctor upon their return home,” Rohrabacher added.

Some Republicans warned that a drug that remains illegal in many states shouldn’t be prescribed for veterans with psychological problems.

“Why in the world would we give a drug that is addictive, that is prohibited under Schedule I, that is not accepted for any specific mental disease or disorder and enhances psychosis and schizophrenia, why are we going to give that to our veterans, especially those with PTSD? That is just absolutely insane,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), a physician.

Even though the medical community has been studying the effects of marijuana on the brains CB1 receptors, stating that positive results have been noted.  The major concern among the medical community is that there is nothing available to treat PTSD and marijuana might just fill that bill.

photo attributed to wikipedia

photo attributed to wikipedia

“There’s not a single pharmacological treatment out there that has been developed specifically for PTSD,” lead author Dr. Alexander Neumeister said in a news release. “That’s a problem. There’s a consensus among clinicians that existing pharmaceutical treatments such as an antidepressant simply do not work.”

“A new study finds a connection between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the number of cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These receptors, called CB1, are activated when a person uses marijuana. The researchers decided to study CB1 receptors because many PTSD patients use marijuana in an attempt to relieve their symptoms, Dr. Neumeister said. Many say marijuana works better for them than legal medications.”

Emory University has been studying the effect of the active ingredient in marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC), lead researcher, Dr. Kerry Ressler, states that the mice treated with the THC look “less anxious, more calm, you know, many of the things that you might imagine.”

Another study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, found “that patients in the sample reported an average of 75 percent reduction in all three areas of PTSD symptoms while using cannabis.” It helped anxiety, flashbacks, and depression.

As Congress continues to balk at requests from the medical community, they are only serving to create criminals out of those veterans who are self-medicating with marijuana in states where it is illegal, or bankrupting those who live in legalized states. They are also creating co-dependency issues through the use of prescription drugs that only serve to mask the symptoms of PTSD.  Here is the opportunity to come together with the medical communities recommendations, change the overall public perception of the “weed” that has been placed irrationally upon a “scheduled” drug list and help our returning veterans cope with a psychological condition they acquired while in service to our government.

Whether you are “for or against” the legalization of marijuana for medical or recreational use is completely irrelevant in regards to our returning vets.  We all owe them a debt of gratitude that we will never be able to repay, so maybe we can show them some kindness, “pass the bowl” and help them move on with their lives.









About the Author

Patrick James
Patrick James
Patrick James has worked as a firefighter/EMT for several services throughout the years, as well as a custom metal fabricator, certified personal trainer and chef. Growing up in the rural suburbs of Detroit, it was during his frequent trips to Northern Michigan where he learned of his love for hunting and fishing. Spending several of his adult years in upstate South Carolina, his love of extreme sports took root in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains as he learned to rock climb and kayak. "Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and vanish into air." ~ John Quincy Adams