Medical cannabis is a growing issue for veterans across the United States.
Some veterans use cannabis to treat pain caused by war, including physical wounds and post-traumatic stress disorder.
VA hospitals don’t give veterans the option of being treated with cannabis, because it is classified as a Schedule I drug, along with the likes of heroin and ecstasy.
Instead, veterans are prescribed a combination of medications called a combat cocktail, a mix of pills including ones used to treat anxiety and depression.
The American Legion, one of the largest veterans organizations in the United States, did a poll on medical cannabis. It found eighty-two percent (82%) of veterans and their caregivers feel the federal government should legalize medical cannabis, and ninety-two percent (92%) support further research into medical cannabis.
Some lawmakers, on both sides, want the VA to conduct more research into the potential benefits of medical cannabis, with hopes the Justice Department will reconsider its current opposition.
Earlier this year, VA Secretary David Shulkin said he was interested in looking into new treatment for veterans.
Joe Acosta, director at the Bakersfield Vets Center, said he’s seen the benefits of cannabis use by veterans he’s counseled.
“It has been my experience that they do respond positively,” Acosta said. “They are able to manage that trauma, for the panic and anxiety, with the use of marijuana.”