I shared an article several weeks back on the government’s stance in regards to veterans using medical cannabis. In a brief summary, active duty is not allowed use since it is still a schedule one drug and illegal. Veterans fall under a different set of rules. Meaning they cannot be treated with or prescribed cannabis or CBD under the same laws, but cannot lose benefits for seeking treatment elsewhere. Also, the VA currently does not pay for this form of treatment.

Why Push for Cannabis Based Treatment?

While the research is demonstrating the effectiveness of cannabis based treatment, many people are still confused as to the potential benefit it could possibly have for veterans when traditional medications are readily available or what illnesses or injuries this would be used for.

Cannabis Based Treatment for Opioid Alternative

The FDA notes increasing interest in the use of cannabis to treat a variety of medical conditions, including glaucoma, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and certain seizure disorders. Of the states that allow medical marijuana, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder are often qualifying medical ailments.

Advocates and researchers believe that legal access to medical cannabis could potentially reverse the opioid addiction crisis that has been reported among many veterans.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 65% of veterans suffer from chronic pain and are twice as likely to die from an accidental prescription opioid overdose as compared with non-veterans. With that being said, many veterans are seeking alternatives to highly addictive and potentially dangerous opioid medications, such as medical marijuana.

USA Today has previously reported that almost every VA facility has experienced a steady drop in its opioid prescription rates since 2012, a significant drop of 41 percent. The VA is also continuing its efforts to promote safe prescribing practices and to address the broader opioid epidemic in the United States, which includes alternative therapies for its patients.

Veteran Testimony

Iraq veteran finds cannabis helpful as Washington debates how to move forward.

Read more of Ryan Rasnick’s story here.

Additional Resources

Veterans Affairs policies on medical marijuana

National Institute of Health

FDA guidelines on marijuana

The Veterans Cannabis Project

The Cannabis Cure

Marijuana’s promising moment