I mentioned in my last blog, A 2020 Look at Cannabis, that we’re coming back into an election year. And as we celebrate Memorial Day weekend, I can’t help but feel as though those are connected. I talked about constituents wanting greater access to cannabis, and what better constituents than veterans?
Currently, veterans are able to access medical cannabis, but only through their state programs. The VA has stated that it doesn’t have a problem with veteran patients trying out cannabis, however, due to its federal status, physicians are not permitted to recommend, prescribe, fill or pay for prescriptions, or conduct research. Patients also have to declare their medical cannabis use, both so it can go on record as well as be considered in conjunction with other treatment methods. Supposedly, participation in state cannabis programs does not disqualify veterans from their benefits, but considering its federal stance, many are apprehensive to either try it or declare it. Considering the VA’s entire purpose is to be the institution to provide veterans with healthcare, it’s a bit frustrating to me that they won’t advocate or do research. I also imagine that this is for patients who have access to medical cannabis – as far as I understand, if veterans wanted to participate in recreational markets they would not be allowed to do so.
So what option do vets have, other than medical or recreational cannabis? As far as 100% legal options in every state, industrial hemp-derived CBD would be the best bet. The reason I specify industrial hemp is because these plants are specifically bred to be low THC, high CBD – aka purely medicinal. This is also the reason those products are legal to possess, carry over state lines, etc.
Even though the VA doesn’t currently support veterans and cannabis, there are a ton of other great organizations getting their hands dirty. A quick Google search for “organizations for veterans and cannabis” yields a ton of different non profits. Additionally, the Colorado-based CBD companies Extract Labs and Colorado Hemp Honey both donate a portion of their proceeds to both veterans and research benefiting them.
Lastly, I’d like to close with a thank you note to our veterans and service members. As a military child, the struggles and sacrifices our service members face is not lost on me. Family members, friends, and peers of mine have all risked their lives, and I’m truly, truly grateful. I hope that in the future our service members have all treatment options available to them.
~written by Melinda Gardner~