Updated: Feb 21, 2021
As Veterans of the United States (U.S.) Armed Forces, we call on the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to fully recognize Cannabis as a viable treatment option for U.S. Veterans. Leaders are increasingly aware of the devastation to former military members (and their families) caused by inappropriate prescription of opiates, SSRIs, Benzodiazepines and other pharmaceuticals.
Multiple attempts have been made to resolve the inability of Veterans to incorporate Cannabis into their official treatment plans. Every attempt made to address our concerns has been sabotaged at the federal level. The VHA must take action on this issue. Federal leadership in the executive and legislative branches of our government must understand the enormity of this situation.
The fact is, Veterans are self-medicating with Cannabis and other substances. Veterans report turning to Cannabis after pharmaceutical options provided by the VHA -- some of which include warnings of suicidal ideation -- exacerbate their symptoms. We have an opportunity to expand the conversation into areas such as MST, TBI, CTE, and other issues Veterans face beyond post traumatic stress (PTS).
Veterans farming Cannabis should be supported by the Department of Agriculture, with programs sponsored by the VHA. Veterans are being forced, sometimes into criminal behavior, to heal themselves using alternative substances not currently recognized by the VHA. The experienced cultivators and medical healthcare and research providers in our network are capable of providing reliable information regarding the benefits of using “real world” Cannabis, as opposed to the currently mandated NIDA product. These professionals can break down the many data points of Cannabis being used by Veterans across the country.
Finally, given the VHA is a federal program, operating in all fifty states, Veterans receiving care from the VHA are federal patients who require equal medical treatment, regardless of state laws. The current situation is untenable and an expansion of existing federal policy is in order. Service members are losing their benefits before entering into Veteran status, and they are experiencing undiagnosed issues stemming from their service. This leaves Veterans with debilitating health concerns that often results in them fending for themselves.
We are urging our representatives to protect the health and safety of Veterans by de-scheduling Cannabis and re-opening the federal Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program (IND) through the VHA. This will ensure Cannabis and other adjunct treatments are available options for Veterans’ healthcare in all 50 States and Territories of the U.S.
Will you join us in this fight?
-The Veterans Action Council