This Thursday, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee will be making a major decision. There is an amendment that if passed, will finally allow U.S. veterans to have access to medical marijuana. This amendment will also allow for a process to obtain medical marijuana recommendations through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The majority of United States veterans have walked away from war with debilitating mental and physical injuries. The battle wounds are deep and hard to heal, making it hard for veterans to function again in modern society. One of the top tribulations for veterans is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Unfortunately, PTSD is extremely common in the military. Approximately 11-20 percent of veterans who served in the Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF), have PTSD in any given year. In the Gulf War, known as Desert Storm, roughly 12 percent have PTSD. And from the Vietnam War, it is estimated that 30 percent of veterans suffer from PTSD. There are many factors that attribute to a soldier suffering from PTSD or similar mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. Regardless of why they suffer from it, it is something that these veterans deal with on a daily basis. Veterans who would receive marijuana from this amendment could ease their struggle.
Currently, veterans in the United States, even where it is legalized, are not allowed to obtain or use cannabis because the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t recognize the plant as having any possible therapeutic effects. If this amendment passes on Thursday, it could completely change the outlook of many veterans that suffer from mental and physical pain. There are many vets who secretly use marijuana to self-medicate, however, if caught this could cause them to lose their military benefits.
This amendment has some serious influencers backing it. Steve Daines the Republican Senator of Montana and Jeff Merkley the Democratic Senator from Oregon. Both of these men are reintroducing this amendment to the Senate in hopes that they will finally pass it. Senator Merkley said, “We often talk about how our soldiers stand up for us, and we need to stand up for them.” Another backer of this amendment, Steph Sherer had a lot to say about passing this bill. “It is time for Congress to pass permanent legislation, such as the Carers Act that provides protections for all of the over 2 million medical cannabis patients in this country. I am happy to know that a majority of this committee is supportive of protecting the rights of veterans.”
It is refreshing for this amendment to have this much support as people band together just like these veterans did as they fought for us and their country. Just as Senator Merkley stated, they continuously fight and stand up for us when they don’t know us, that takes courage and bravery. We as a country, need to pay it forward and give them what they need. If this country can ease their mental and physical pain, shouldn’t it?