Congress Should Lift the Ban on Medical Cannabis Access for Military Veterans

Americans in 33 states and the District of Columbia have legal access to medical marijuana under a doctor’s authorization. But this same access is often lacking for many military veterans.

That is because the current policy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs explicitly prohibits V.A. physicians “from completing forms or registering veterans for participation in state-approved [medical marijuana] program[s].”

… Continued congressional intransigence on this issue is unacceptable. Emerging evidence indicates that cannabis can potentially mitigate many of the symptoms plaguing our nation’s veterans.

For example, a 2014 study reported a 75 percent reduction in PTSD symptomology scores following subjects’ enrollment in a state-sponsored medical cannabis access program. Separate data from Minnesota similarly reports that many patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis registry show a “clinically meaningful” reduction in post-traumatic stress symptoms.

Most recently, data published this month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reported that those with a clinical diagnosis of PTSD who consume cannabis possess significantly lower rates of severe depression and suicidal ideation than those who do not.

… It is time for Congress to grant physicians affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs the same discretion as other doctors in medical cannabis states. Politicians should no longer put politics ahead of the health and well-being of America’s military veterans, some of whom may potentially benefit from medical marijuana.

Read NORML’s full op-ed at The Hill here.