Veterans are at the Forefront of Advocacy
NEW YORK – This past Veteran’s Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo showed his support for veterans when he signed legislation that will permit veterans with PTSD to get medical marijuana as treatment. The new legislation permits all military service members, firefighters, police personnel, domestic violence and rape victims to receive cannabis for PTSD.
Support for medical marijuana is spreading quickly as its health benefits are being voiced by veterans suffering from PTSD and chronic pain. Veterans are at the forefront of advocacy groups in support of legalizing weed. The American Legion currently has 2.2 million members and strongly supports legalizing medical marijuana. The American Legion is pressuring the federal government to allow the doctors from the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe cannabis in legal medical marijuana states.
Dr. David Shulkin, the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary, has said that "There may be some evidence that this (medical marijuana) is beginning to be helpful." He added that his agency can’t help patients because of the federal law barring marijuana.
Gov. Cuomo is also a strong supporter and said in a statement “Our veterans risked their lives in order to defend the ideals and principles that this nation was founded upon, and it is our duty to do everything we can to support them when they return home.” Medical Marijuana programs in 28 states plus Washington, D.C. now consider PTSD as a qualifying condition for cannabis treatment.
Mark DiPasquale, a former Marine staff sergeant, says that marijuana saved him from a dangerous cocktail of prescription drugs. They included anti-anxiety drugs and 17 opioid medications for migraines, PTSD and several other injuries he received in Iraq. "I just felt like a zombie, and I wanted to hurt somebody," the retired Marine sergeant said. DiPasquale is also the co-founder of the Veterans Cannabis Collective Foundation in Rochester, NY. The foundation’s goal is to educate vets about the health benefits of cannabis.
An FDA approved medical marijuana trial for veterans with PTSD is currently in progress. The trial is being conducted by Dr. Suzanne Sisley in Arizona.