According to a poll conducted in 2017 by the American Legion—a group that advocates for the use of medical marijuana for treating vets from chronic pain and PTSD—one in four veterans stated that they use medical marijuana to ease discomfort caused by a physical condition and for their mental well-being.
Another survey conducted by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in 2020, concluded that 75% of the veterans who responded to the survey claimed that they were open to using medicinal cannabis or a product with medical cannabis extracts if provided.
While a good percentage of veterans are willing to use medicinal cannabis to lessen their discomfort, most of them state that they’re unable to use it, due to the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implementing a policy that states that veterans are not able to participate in state-approved medicinal cannabis programs.
How can medicinal cannabis positively impact the veteran healthcare system?
Military service takes a toll, both physically and mentally. Whether it was during rigorous physical training, or actively participating on the battlefield, the life of a post-war veteran is a challenge.
Over 20% of the 2.7 million veterans who were involved in the Iraq-American conflict are reported to experience post-traumatic stress or depression.
Even with this significantly large percentage, the VA is unable to provide the necessary treatment measures to assist every veteran’s physical and mental wounds.
While most veterans are prescribed a mixture of prescription drugs to ease their discomfort, most of these drugs contain addictive opiates and may not fully help in addressing the ailments the veterans experience.
Implementing the use of medical marijuana for pain relief in the VA healthcare system may be beneficial as it’s proven to be safe with no dangerous side effects, unlike opiate-based drugs.
What challenges are currently hindering the use of medical marijuana in veterans’ healthcare?
According to the VA policy, VA-affiliated doctors aren’t allowed to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans even if it’s legalized in the relevant state. This policy has forced most veterans to turn to private, out-of-network physicians to seek advice and treatment.
Although finding out-of-network physicians and going through the process of getting an MMJ certification can be stressful for many veterans—especially those who aren’t familiar with this area of medicine— an experienced MMJ certification provider can help them with quick and convenient MMJ card registration.
What measures have been taken to approve the use of medical marijuana in veteran healthcare?
Currently, multiple bills are being passed to Congress to regulate the use of medicinal cannabis as a treatment plan for veterans.
The issues that are addressed in these bills, however, require prioritization to provide a lawful safe harbor for veteran patients and the provision of an insurance pathway for the financial relief of veterans who need to obtain physician-prescribed medication.
Progress has also been seen in the VA committee as the bill to request permission for the study of the effects of medicinal cannabis and how it can affect PTSD, depression, and chronic pain has been passed for approval.
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