In May of 2016 a bipartisan Congress agreed that Veterans and their VA doctors will have the right to discuss medical marijuana as a treatment option for everything from chronic pain to post-traumatic stress disorder in states that have legalized MMJ.
The House and Senate approved bills that include amendments lift restrictions otherwise preventing VA doctors and patients from even considering MMJ for Veteran’s health related matters. The bills have not yet been reconciled and signed into law, but the move and support by a majority of state representatives further signals a change of thinking that’s long overdue.
This legal move does two things for the MMJ movement heretofore not seen on the federal scene. One, it legitimizes MMJ as a viable and feasible course of action when it comes to treating patients. Two, it sends a message to other federal government agencies that says marijuana should not be seen as a Class 1 scheduled narcotic. Currently the DEA deems the plant as a drug with no medical use that causes long-term, severe psychological problems.
Through science and concerted study, today’s conventional wisdom has proven this DEA designation as antiquated. In fact, MMJ is seen as a course of treatment that ameliorates Veteran’s chances of healing and fending off painful physical and mental symptomatology without the harmful side-effects that opioids have shown.
Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon cited in the floor debate, “The death rate from opioids among VA health care is nearly double the national average.” Any medical practice that aids our men and women in dealing with the ravages of war should not be denied such practice. Bias, ignorance, and the vilification of a plant based treatment to improve the quality of life of our Vets only prevents healing options.
With the impending action finding its place in law, the VA further proves a leader in modern medicine with this move, showing as it has with its acceptance of other alternative medicines such as acupuncture that medical treatment is less about manipulation of the medical industry by outside forces and more about the care and treatment of its patients.