Letter of Support from Patients Out of Time
Updated: Mar 19
Letter of Support for the Green Paper developed by the
Veterans Action Council
Patients Out of Time
February 26, 2021
Patients Out of Time is in full support of the Veterans Action Council’s Green Paper and agrees that the time to de-schedule cannabis was yesterday. The 1993 “Marijuana As Medicine” document written by Randall and O’Leary gave clear evidence that cannabis is a safe and effective medicine and that it was unjustly placed in Schedule I of the controlled substances – the forbidden category of drugs. To be placed in Schedule I, a drug has to meet 3 criteria: 1) not safe for medical use, 2) no accepted medical value in the U.S., and 3) highly addictive. Cannabis meets NONE of the 3 criteria.
It has been over 27 years since that paper was published and nothing has changed with the federal government’s marijuana prohibition, despite the ever-growing evidence of the value of this plant as a medicine, food product, and an environmentally friendly source of fuel, fiber and building products.
Patients Out of Time was founded in 1995 by 2 Navy Veterans, Al Byrne and Mary Lynn Mathre with the mission to educate health care professionals and the public about the therapeutic use of cannabis. In 2000, Patients Out of Time began its biennial, now annual, National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics series, which brings the leading cannabis scientists, clinicians, and patients together to share the current state of cannabis science and clinical practice.
Since that 1993 paper scientists have discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS) – a molecular signaling system found in humans and all creatures (except insects) with the central role of maintaining homeostasis or balance. This system is involved in most, if not all, physiological processes within our bodies that protect us from stressors and help us heal. We make cannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids) similar to the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant (phyto-cannabinoids). Cannabis is an essential medicine when our own ECS is overwhelmed or deficient.
Since that 1993 paper, the Institute of Medicine completed Marijuana as Medicine: Assessing the Science Base in 1999 and the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine completed its report, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids in 2017. Both national reports support the safety and efficacy of cannabis therapeutics.
Since that 1993 paper, 36 states have recognized cannabis as medicine and polls throughout the country show overwhelming support for patient access to medical cannabis. Just this past December 2nd, the United Nations removed cannabis from their Schedule IV (forbidden category) of the Single Convention Drug Control Treaty of 1961 – recognizing its safety and efficacy as a medicine on the international level.
As a country, we ask our military forces to defend our constitution and protect our freedoms. Many of our Veterans have put their lives in harm’s way to fulfill their duty to our country. The suicide rate among Veterans is heartbreaking and is primarily a result of the cocktail of pharmaceuticals prescribed by VHA physicians to treat PTS symptoms, TBI and/or CTE sequelae, or other injuries. Countless Veterans have found relief with cannabis. There is NO justifiable or compassionate basis to deny our Veterans access to this natural healing herb. The VHA must demand the right for all Veterans to have access to cannabis and it is the responsibility of the VHA to cover the costs of this medicine for Veterans.
Ultimately cannabis must be de-scheduled and anyone should be allowed to cultivate this plant. The cannabis prohibition must end. Let’s start with our Veterans who have clearly earned their right to cultivate, possess, and use this ancient healing plant. Literally, many of their lives depend on it.