In the United States veterans of war are often viewed and treated as heroes – individuals brave enough to stand up for freedom and justice. On the other end of the spectrum, society often lets them get kicked around once they return from battle, shook-up from an experience that no human being should ever have to go through. The government – who sent them there in the first place – does little to help them adjust as many go homeless in an attempt to reintegrate themselves into normal society. Many veterans have a hard time coping with the reality of war, and many develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When veterans decide to medicate naturally by using marijuana to treat this condition – one that can overcome someone’s entire life if severe enough – we throw them in prison, putting behind bars the same individuals who fought for the freedom of the people putting them there. If a veteran wants to medicate without being thrown in jail, they must resort to heavy narcotics, or lethal alcohol.
This is insanity-in-action.
If the U.S. respects its veterans, it will put an immediate stop to this, and will legalize the use of marijuana to treat post traumatic stress disorder. The pharmaceutical narcotics on the market to treat PTSD don’t work, and in many cases lead to higher rates of suicide and depression – this doesn’t sound that a healthy way to treat a condition that’s mental in nature. With over 20% of all U.S. suicides involving a veteran, giving them depression-inducing narcotics makes no sense, and is counterproductive.
Given the harshness of these narcotics, many veterans – whether they’re in one of the three states that allow it or not – have self-medicated with cannabis, something that most veterans have found to be, by far, the best treatment for their PTSD. Not only does it reduce the symptoms associated with the conditions – such as severe anxiety – it helps the individual cope with reality and get better enjoyment out of life.
Now, with years of anecdotal evidence indicating marijuana to be the best PTSD medicine, science is catching up as well. Research conducted by New York University School of Medicine, and published recently in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, has found that cannabinoids may combat the symptoms of PTSD by bringing equilibrium to the the cannabinoid receptors in the brain (the study found that those with PTSD had more receptors in the parts of their brains linked to fear and anxiety). This indicates that cannabis may be the best medicine we have available for treating PTSD. Making the findings even more important, the lead researcher of the study, Alexander Neumeister, notes, “There’s a consensus among clinicians that existing pharmaceutical treatments such as antidepressant simple do not work.”
Another study released in 2011 and conducted by Haifa University found that cannabis may actually block the symptoms of PTSD from ever occurring in individuals who consume marijuana shortly after a traumatic experience. The study was conducted on animals, not humans, but the results are promising nonetheless, and future research will help to validate these findings.
Despite scientific studies indicating its usefulness as a PTSD medication, and despite thousands of veterans personal testifying to it, the U.S. retains the complete illegality of veterans using marijuana as a medicine. Even among those states that have legal medical marijuana, only three – New Mexico, Connecticut and Delaware – allow for PTSD as a qualifying condition (though Oregon is getting close). This is disgraceful.
If veterans have so clearly benefited from this plant – and science is beginning to show us why – how, as a supposedly modern society, do we turn these individuals into criminals for deciding to pass up heavy pharmaceuticals?
It’s time for Americans to stand against this absurdity. This Memorial Day, please take the time to contact your elected officials, urging them to work towards the compassionate move of allowing our soldiers and veterans (or anyone, really) to use marijuana if they can benefit from it. Keeping it from them – forcing them to either deal with their symptoms or introduce more to their body by taking narcotics – is wrong and inhumane.
The U.S. government expects their soldiers to fight their wars and kill their enemies – regardless of whether or not the war is just – yet they snatch a nonlethal medication right from their hands, and throw them in prison, when they have difficulty coping.
It’s time we change this mindset. If elected officials want to prove they respect American’s veterans and soldiers, they’ll work towards allowing them to use a natural medicine that they find beneficial. Until then, they’re all talk, and no compassionate.