Being a retired Army medic, every time a soldier dies I feel like I’m losing a brother. This is especially hard when they die at there own hands. I feel this tragedy could help be prevented if medical marijuana was permitted to be used to treat PSTD. I dont think medical marijuana is for every one, but it could help a few.
According to the the Department of Veteran Affairs 22 soldiers commit suicide every day. This is roughly equivalent to 8030 soldiers a year. This staggering number is double the national average.
The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates between 11-20% of the troops that served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD. This roughly equates to about 7.7 million of my brothers. These wars have wounded so many more than this as well. What the statics don’t mention is how many family’s have been affected by these wounded warriors.
The VA does have counseling in place and medicine but the side effects are incredible horrible. Many of the soldiers feel completely nonfunctional in society on their meds. Also, some of the side effects are even suicide. To me that’s completely unacceptable.
Many people believe that medical marijuana is the answer to this problem and so do I. A recent study conducted by Israeli scientist, Raphael Mechoulam, Ph. D., proves this point. He tested the memory extinction of lab mice on and off medical marijuana. Memory extinction is the normal healthy process of removing association from certain stimuli.
In this test, he plays a noise then shocks the mice. His conclusion is, the mice given a small to moderate dosage of marijuana typically forget the association of the noise with the shock after a couple days. The mice that did not have a dosage of marijuana never forget the association and still cringe after this noise forever.
He received approval, from this government, to conduct further testing in Israeli Veterans. He believes the use of medical marijuana will help the veterans disassociate certain loud noises with memories of combat.
In this study marijuana has been proven to reduce the effects of anxiety in lab mice. As long as the mice where administered a small to moderate dose. If the mice where administered a large dose then the medical marijuana has a negative effect.
So here we have two successful studies that has proven medical marijuana helps relieve certain aspects of PSTD. Many soldiers already use marijuana to help them sleep, deal with large crowds and suppress the memories of combat. According to federal law, these men/women are criminals.
Currently, only six states have approves the use of medical marijuana for PTSD: New Mexico, Delaware, Oregon, Connecticut, Maine and Nevada. Although, approved by the state its still not approved by the VA as a method of treatment. This problem is forcing soldiers to seek out other methods of acquiring their much needed medicine. Some legal and others not. Either way, this practice is still conflicting with VA prescriptions and fear of dishonorable discharge for enlisted members.
Recently, the news has been broadcasting how Dr. Susanne Sisley has received approval from the U.S Food and Drug Administration. But what they lack to say is that she still needs approval from the DEA and funding. A recent bill to provide funding was passed in Arizona with a vote of 52-5. But state Senator Kimberly Yee(Phoenix) who chairs the Senate Education committee, refused to put the bill on her committee’s agenda before the March 20th deadline, saying that she only wanted the funds to be directed for drug use prevention. The state of Arizona has over 6 million in surplus from medical marijuana sales. The projected cost of the clinical trials was a little over $800,000.
A veteran group, supporting medical marijuana research, filed a recall initiative against Senator Kimberly Yee, to have her removed from office. After the veterans group and the Senator came to a compromise, they have filed to end the recall. Now the Senator is talking to Dr. Sue Sisley to find a funding solution.
If you live in Arizona please contact the Senator and pressure her to help with funding. If you do not, please contact your elected officials. We need to help our brothers heal.
Duane McKenzie is an former Army medic and is an author at My 420 friends
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