Being a soldier, fighting for your country, has many dangers. Even if you survive tours of active duty in international war zones and hot spots, you may return with long-term injures – and lingering trauma that causes extreme distress. Could Cannabis for PTSD hold the answers?
Veteran Leo Bridgewater says that returning soldiers are warmly thanked for their service and are feted with welcoming yellow ribbons – but that he didn’t expect this support to end there. The veteran, who has been through several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, sustained a knee injury for which medical cannabis has been prescribed – but he says it helps with his PTSD too.
As a resident of New Jersey, he says he can’t receive medical cannabis for PTSD, but he can get a prescription for pain relief, so he says he considers himself “lucky”.
War heroes can’t get cannabis for PTSD
Although 11- 20% of veterans retiring from active combat zones suffer from PTSD, the legislated, approved conditions for which medical cannabis can be used is limited, and may not include the condition that troubles them most. That Mr Bridgewater considers himself “lucky” to have chronic pain as a qualifying condition for a treatment that relieves his PTSD is telling.
NJTV reports that Dr. Alex Bekker, chairman of a panel that has been convened to address this issue, says that recreational use aspects aren’t on his radar. He wants to know whether medical cannabis for PTSD really does work. Cannabis, he says, is not a new drug. It has been used for 5,000 years or more. He hopes to discover whether it really can be used to help doctors provide relief for their patients.
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Miller speaks out
Another army veteran, cited in the NJTV broadcast only as “Mr Miller” says that being zonked on Oxycodone and Percocet, pharmaceuticals commonly used to treat PTSD, was a problem. He has experience of the benefits of medical cannabis at first hand, specifically in his then-unapproved treatment of his late wife who suffered from multiple sclerosis.
At the time, he read a journal article that seemed to indicate that medical cannabis could help, so he began giving it to his wife in her food. According to the report, he says that it achieved what nothing else could, and that she encouraged him to share their story in the hopes of helping other MS sufferers.
Bekker hopes that cannabis can reduce chances of opioid addiction
Dr. Bekker is hoping that apart from finding a better treatment for PTSD among veterans, cannabis will offer an alternative or adjunct to opioids for pain relief that would reduce the addiction “epidemic” currently ravaging the United States. He’s not alone in this regard, and a finding that medical cannabis reduced opioid overdoses in certain states are fuelling the hopes that have been raised.
60 days for comment for MA
The panel is open to public comment, and after the 60-day period in which submissions will be considered, it will report to the Department of Health as well as the governor.
Will you be joining in the commentary? Should vets have access to medical cannabis? What about its less euphoric form, CBD?