I'M A BIG SUPPORTER of allowing armed forces veterans access to cannabis—seeing as how I'm a huge wussy who wouldn't have made it through three hours of basic training, much less full-on combat. I have enough trouble fighting off a cold.
Recently it seems hell may have frozen over, as the Drug Enforcement Administration has authorized a study to see how the use of smoking cannabis can treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It's the first clinical study on PTSD to use cannabis in its raw, smokeable form.
This is a really big deal, and potentially fantastic news. But consider this:
• According to the study's sponsor, the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, researchers will now be allowed to purchase cannabis from the government's National Institute on Drug Abuse. Which is pretty lame as the federally grown weed being researched at the University of Mississippi is, to use a clinical term, "terrible." So the study will be hampered by the fact that it's providing, at best, low-quality cannabis to its test subjects.
• We won't see results from the study for a while—as late as 2019. (And you thought it took you a long time to finish a sack.)
• It remains to be seen if more states will come on board in making PTSD a qualifying condition in their medical marijuana programs. Of the current 23 states with medical marijuana programs, only five list PTSD as a qualifying condition to obtain a medical card.
• There are going to be far fewer veterans with us when the study is finally released. It's estimated that there are 930,000 US veterans living with PTSD. The suicide rate for vets is unacceptably high—50 percent higher than the civilian rate—and the prescription opiate medication overdose rate for vets is nearly twice the national average. Between suicides and fatal prescription overdoses, that adds up to more than 18,000 dead veterans every year, or an average of 50 a day.
Are your eyes watering yet? Mine are. (But I'm looking manly while it's happening.)
More can be done to help our veterans.
Grow for Vets, a stellar national organization with a recently opened Portland Chapter, is doing just that. Founded in January 2014, this Colorado-based nonprofit is headed up by Roger Martin, an Army veteran who credits cannabis with helping him overcome a 10-year dependency on prescription drugs like Oxycontin, which he was prescribed for pain. Grow for Vets' mission statement says they're dedicated to "providing veterans with a safe alternative to deadly prescription drugs. We connect veterans with the knowledge and resources necessary to obtain or grow their own cannabis for treatment of their medical conditions."
They take donations for money, medicine, or time. That middle part means they accept donations of cannabis, which will be given to veterans, although often in a different form. At giveaways in Colorado, they provide vets with no-charge consultations to establish what their issues are and what products will be of best use. These recommendations inform what type of professionally made and tested edibles and tinctures will be provided, along with seeds and instructions on how veterans can make their own medicated butter, oil, and tinctures. (The Colorado headquarters of Grow for Vets does not provide bud, as Martin is anti-smoking; however, raw leaf has been given out by other chapters.)
Veterans aren't the only ones suffering from PTSD. Survivors of violence, sexual assault, or experiences like a terrorist attack or natural disasters can have symptoms. But when it's acquired during service for our country, it's hard-earned. Ever watch Platoon? Yeah.
So—that shake you were going to use to make cookies with next weekend? It could help a veteran in serious pain. And summer will be here soon, Pillsbury dough-belly, so maybe you don't need to whip up an extra batch of cookies that will give you even more munchies.
Someone who served could use it. Find more info at growforvetsoregon.org.