Cannabis can help our vets
By Jim Bucher
Can cannabis help our vets?
Answer to my own question: YES.
Our state is beginning to roll out legal medical cannabis (or pot, to you and I)—and frankly, it’s about time. To prove it, I spoke with a vet who dealt with some dark stuff in Afghanistan and can’t wait to use marijuana without feeling like a criminal, but more on that in a minute.
In more than six years of clinical experience with medical cannabis, VHA has never identified an issue with its use as a therapeutic agent. In other words, no harm done here.
Since 2010, the VHA recognized this historical opportunity and has analyzed results from tens of thousands of cannabis-using patients to control a wide variety of maladies.
From personal experience, I know it can relax people and calm anxiety issues.
Sure beats taking a pill and seeing a shrink—cheaper, too. But I digress.
With the new administration and talk of restarting the “war on drugs,” will we put the pot-mobile in reverse?
In the interim, though, my aforementioned vet friend, Bobby, swears by its medicinal benefits.
Bobby is not his real name, as he is currently using illegally and doesn’t want or need any additional problems.
During our initial phone call, Bobby’s voice was quiet and methodical. He then requested to respond via email. He was uncomfortable talking.
“I’m in this constant fog and diagnosed with PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder],” he explains. “We experienced some heavy-duty shit while deployed. I lost two good friends.”
The 38-year-old married father of two is just trying to cope every day.
“It’s been really tough, tough on me, my wife—who is my rock—and our kids,” he says. “Doctors had me in and out of treatment, different meds, psychologist visits, but nothing calms me more and reduces anxiety like pot.”
Bobby says he really wasn’t a pot smoker before all this, but now it is the only way to get through life.
“I really wish we’d get off our asses regarding this issue. I, and many others, have benefitted tremendously by using,” he says. “Currently, I must buy on the streets. There’s no shortage out there. Hoping the time comes soon where this can happen legally and I don’t feel so underhanded and like a criminal every time I buy.”
It could happen soon here in Ohio. The 2016 election saw eight more states legalize pot for medical or recreational use. Bobby says he believes the veteran population was a large piece of each state’s decision.
“Yes, for every one of me, there’s tens of thousands of veterans in the same boat,” he says. “Not to mention millions of non-vets who need the medicinal benefits of marijuana. When we know it works—and again, don’t know what I’d do without it—why is this an issue at all?”
A doctor pal of mind, who also requests anonymity because of possible repercussions, agrees that marijuana has been proven to work wonders.
“Obviously, I can’t prescribe cannabis yet, hoping that will change very soon,” he says. “Although when it is legal [to prescribe] for medicinal purposes, I’ll be one of the first to treat some patients with it.”
He says the research is there.
“Studies prove that it works for people with anxiety issues, cancer patients, and more. The argument that marijuana is a gateway drug to heroin is ridiculous,” he says. “And if anyone says it is, they need a full head exam. I’m worried, with the political climate, we may reverse some of the legal headway made over the past decade. Our attorney general stated that pot is bad. I’m afraid with this pervasive attitude, this is not good.”
Yet, it is amazing, speaking as a dad with two daughters, how readily available pot is to acquire. My girls say most of their friends have access anytime. So, if you’re looking, call them at—OK, that’s a joke.
But what’s not funny is that vets like Bobby can’t get easy legal access to a drug that helps him exist and live a “normal” life.
“I want people to know, Buch, I’m not walking around stoned all the time. Mostly just to relax in the evening when our kids are down for the night and my mind wanders to those battlefield images. It’s tough, but I’m trying with the support of my doctors, family, friends, and my one hitter,” he says with a laugh.
We thank you for your service, my friend, and hope our leaders see the light—it’s the least we can do.
For more on Ohio’s medical marijuana roll out, please go to page 22. For questions to ask your doctor about medical marijuana, please go to page 27.