Legalized access to cannabis will help former military soldiers fight symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder while reducing their need for opiate prescriptions, a panel of combat veterans and politicians said in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
An estimated 20 veterans commit suicide each day, said marijuana advocate Dr. Sue Sisley at Wednesday’s conference, for various reasons stemming from pain problems and PTSD symptoms. With VA doctors currently prohibited by law from speaking about marijuana with their patients or recommending the plant for their ailments, those veterans must seek private doctors for medical marijuana recommendations.
And even if approved for a medical card, veterans can lose their VA benefits if they test positive for the plant, Sisley said.
Also speaking at Wednesday’s panel, Nevada state Sen. Pat Spearman, a 29-year Army veteran, called the current practice “unfair” and “absurd.”
“For cannabis to be off the table for someone whose body cannot control these medicines is wrong,” Spearman said during the nearly two-hour panel at the central-valley based Laborers Union Hall, 4201 E. Bonanza Road. “We have to change it.”
Former Marine Roberto Pickering told a crowd of dozens of veterans and medical marijuana industry employees he was a “basket case” upon returning home Iraq over a decade ago, after witnessing multiple friends killed on the battlefield.
With a “Combat Cocktail,” of nearly a dozen prescription medications, including opiates like Valium, Zoloft and Ambien, Pickering said he turned into a “zombie” upon returning to civilian life, had suicidal tendencies and struggled to focus on his university studies.
“That didn’t work for me,” Pickering said. “Wellness is about getting your body right and getting the right sleep. I wanted to wake up, be happy and have everything work.”
Pickering, like a growing number of veterans, found solace in marijuana. He started smoking after a couple of years on VA doctor-prescribed opiate medications, and said the plant provided better relief than the prescription pills without the “nasty” side effects.
Fellow Iraq War veteran Boone Cutler said he struggled to sleep for nearly five years after returning from Iraq in the mid-2000s and also battled depression and suicidal thoughts on his regimen of pills. Cutler spent two years rehabbing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., before a young co-worker suggested he try marijuana to help lower his late-night adrenaline rushes.
Cutler told attendees at Wednesday’s event he now sleeps for five hours each night thanks to marijuana, a change he called “amazing.”
“Others living without (access to marijuana) are going to die,” Cutler said. “If I say it works, how can you say it doesn’t?”
The advocates at Wednesday’s panel pushed for Nevadans to vote yes on Ballot Question 2, which would legally allow adults age 21 and older to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana in the Silver State, or an eighth of an ounce of medical marijuana concentrates, like wax and shatter.
Legalizing the plant recreationally for all adults would provide veterans easier access to self-medicate with marijuana, and promote greater societal acceptance that could eventually help eradicate the punishment veterans would face from the VA, panelists argued.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Spearman said.
Other speakers at Wednesday’s event included Nevada Rep. Dina Titus and Oregon 3rd Congressional District Rep. Earl Blumenauer.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Veterans, Soldiers Tout Pot Benefits In Fight Against PTSD, Opiate Addiction
Author: Chris Kudialis
Contact: (702) 385-3111
Photo Credit: Mikayla Whitmore
Website: Las Vegas Sun