This Memorial Day, along with the beer and the barbecues and the beach parties, let’s take the time to reflect upon the falling American heroes who died while serving our nation.
But don’t stop there. Now is the time to let our elected officials know that taking care of our troops when they come home needs to be a national priority.
As we send our young men and women overseas to fight for our national interests, more and more of them are suffering not from bullets, but from post-traumatic stress disorder. An estimated 8,000 veteran commit suicide a year — 22 a day. These are deaths attributed squarely on our War on Drugs.
Our elected officials prevent doctors at the Veterans Administration from even mentioning with their patients the benefits of medical marijuana, despite the fact that research continues to suggest that it would help veterans struggling with PTSD.
Just earlier this week, the American Legion, America’s largest veterans organization, urged President Trump to reschedule marijuana once and for all.
“We are not asking for it to be legalized,” Louis Celli, the Legion’s national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation told Politico. “There is overwhelming evidence that it has been beneficial for some vets. The difference is that it is not founded in federal research because it has been illegal.”
The failure to act is a national disgrace. If we truly support our troops and want to keep them alive, it is time to end this senseless War on Drugs and provide medical relief to those who are fighting for us.
Instead of considering cannabis as a method to relieve those suffering from PTSD, VA doctors are left with opioids as the only remedy in their medical kit. And a disproportionate amount of veterans are suffering from opiate addiction. It’s an epidemic that cries out for a new solution.
“I have been deeply troubled about our inability to adequately deal with our returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). “A lot of them are suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, and these are all conditions that have been shown to respond to medical marijuana.”
A study published by the American Journal of Public Health suggests that access to cannabis was associated with an 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate males aged 20 to 29 and a 1o percent reduction in the suicide rate of men aged 30 to 39. Another study shows deaths from opiate overdoses decreased 25 percent in those states with legally accessible cannabis.
Dr. Sue Sisley, a cannabis researcher who is studying the benefits of cannabis for sufferers of PTSD, said the American Legion’s support should be an impetus for change.
“I consider this a major breakthrough for such a conservative veterans organization,” said Sisley. “The American Legion has a tangible policy statement on cannabis that will allow them to lobby and add this to their core legislative agenda. The organization has a massive amount of influence at all levels.”
Sadly, these pleas are falling on deaf ears in Washington D.C. The new administration has been sending out mixed messages on its cannabis policy, but all signs point to a doubling down on the failed drug war.
This Memorial Day, ask yourself a simple question: Why are we denying effective treatment for our brave men and women in uniform who are desperate for comfort?
As we remember our fallen soldiers, it is incumbent among us to continue fighting for them.
It is time to end our insanity.