Monday was Memorial Day, when the United States takes a day to remember members of our armed forces that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Unfortunately, our nation doesn’t do enough for veterans and their families. Too often, supporting our troops is just a slogan, and our government doesn’t put in place the services and policies to adequately address the needs of those that signed up to protect us. From their pay to their healthcare, we need to do better for those currently in the military and those that have moved back into the private sector. Cannabis policy is certainly no exception and it’s past time that our veterans be allowed to utilize cannabis without fear. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam is pushing too many veterans into the illegal, underground market.
Even as marijuana legalization continues to expand across the country (33 states have some form of legal marijuana on their books and well-known former politicians have becomes spokesmen for the cannabis industry), many of the nation’s 18.2 million veterans occupy an uncomfortable limbo between rapidly liberalizing cultural attitudes and an unbending federal standard that hasn’t changed since the 1970s. Veterans looking for alternatives to addictive and dangerous opioids and other pharmaceuticals are effectively prevented from using marijuana, by price, policy and quite often the ongoing stigma that marijuana still carries.
Veterans are also a group in crisis. A 2012 report by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that up to 22 veterans were dying by suicide daily. While the VA has since lowered that statistic, some veterans’ advocacy groups say that number is probably much higher—closer to 50 a day—when opioid overdoses and despair over opioid addiction are taken into account.
The VA and lawmakers “need to understand how important cannabis is to veterans,” says Patrick Seifert, a Marine Corps veteran who founded the Twenty22Many advocacy group in Olympia, Washington. “There’s no demographic that benefits more from cannabis.”
With evidence showing that medical cannabis access helping opioid patients decrease their use of addictive narcotics and a reduction in opioid prescriptions overall, it is time that the federal government do right by our veterans and allow medicinal cannabis as a part of their healthcare. They’ve given too much to be forced to buy from the unregulated, illegal market or to take more addictive and lethal drugs. Let’s not pay lip service to supporting the military. Allowing cannabis use won’t fix all of the problems facing our service members and veterans, but it’s a start.
A friendly reminder that Kind Leaf provides a 15% discount to all registered Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patients and a 10% discount to all veterans. Order online or come on into the store and peruse the biggest and best inventory in the Great Northwest.