Why marijuana’s potential benefits for vets outweigh the risks
"Marijuana is that drug — a violent narcotic — an unspeakable scourge — The Real Public Enemy Number One! Its first effect is sudden, violent, uncontrollable laughter, then come dangerous hallucinations — space expands — time slows down, almost stands still. …" — Reefer Madness, 1936
OK, so that propaganda film was 80-plus years ago. It turns out, marijuana is not a "scourge." In fact, it might be a key to helping our veterans' service-related ailments.
So why is the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Justice still treating cannabis like it's dangerous reefer? Even the American Legion is pushing for further study into the benefits of marijuana, touting it as a safer alternative to opioid therapy, often used to treat chronic pain.
A recent study, released by the American Legion, found that more than 90 percent of veterans support expanding research into medical marijuana. In addition, more than 80 percent back allowing federal doctors to prescribe it to veterans.
Those findings are eye-opening for sure, and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin should see them as marching orders.
Democrats on the House Veterans Affairs Committee have already petitioned Shulkin to use his department's Office of Research and Development to explore cannabis medication. Thus far, these requests have gone nowhere. However, the American Legion's study shows that this is not a partisan issue.
American Legion leaders stress this is not a call to legalize recreational use of marijuana. But we're talking about hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members who risked life and limb for our country. Today, they suffer with deteriorating bodies, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress.
We as a country must do everything in our power to find the safest and most effective treatments for them.
If that means studying cannabis, what is the downside? Uncontrollable laughter? That sounds pretty good.