For veterans, the benefits of medicinal marijuana use are many.
Medicinal use of marijuana has been proven to treat many ailments that are common among veterans, from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) like anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia to physical conditions like chronic back pain.
That's why a growing number of veterans are pressing the federal government -- particularly the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the VA -- to recognize marijuana as a legitimate form of medicine.
Currently, 23 states along with the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana to be used legally, with more states likely to follow a growing recognition of the benefits of medicinal marijuana use for those who genuinely need it.
According to theWashington Post, the federal government considers marijuana to be a Schedule I drug -- on the same level as heroin and LSD. As a result, all VA-run hospitals and the physicians who work there “are prohibited from recommending and prescribing medical marijuana for PTSD or other pain-related issues.”
Instead, VA physicians are forced to rely on often-addictive pharmaceuticals and painkillers to dole out to their patients, many of which have undesirable side effects as well. And if veterans who live in states where it's still illegal to use it disclose their medicinal marijuana use to the VA, they face criminal charges.
“Anecdotally we know it works, and more and more studies are saying this,” one unnamed VA doctor, a PTSD expert who is the head of a prominent East Coast VA pain center, told the Washington Post. “But we aren’t allowed to study it.”
So while the federal government has yet to budge on the medical marijuana issue, the growing chorus of veterans seeking national legalization for the sake of their health may soon become hard for Capitol Hill to ignore.
What do you think about this issue? Should veterans in all states be able to use marijuana to treat their various conditions? Share your thoughts in the comments below.