Who’s calling the shots to allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana? News 3 stopped by Las Vegas ReLeaf with that question in mind. Reports estimate that over 13 and a half thousand Nevadans currently have a medical marijuana card, and the state is reviewing another 800+ applications. That’s a lot of pot smoking Nevadans, but the age range of who’s smoking the most might surprise you.
According to state health statistics, the age group with the largest number of medical marijuana patients in Nevada is 55 to 64-year-olds. From that group comes veterans speaking out about the benefits of medical marijuana for their problems after serving the country. However, it is veterans that have been struggling to get access to the medicine they need to feel better. Why?
Although Nevada, 22 other states and the District of Columbia legalized medical marijuana, it is still considered illegal in the eyes of the federal government – and that is who the VA, a federal agency, reports to.
Veterans have been fighting for access to medical marijuana since the numerous benefits of marijuana for PTSD and chronic pain came to light. Vets even protested to the White House late last year, filling the streets with thousands of empty prescription pill bottles collected from vets who lost their lives after battle due to conditions that marijuana is known to help. Some of these conditions include PTSD, chronic pain, phantom limb pain, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression – all of which can severely affect a veteran.
Las Vegas ReLeaf reports that currently 10-15 percent of their patient base are comprised of veterans. But, there are many more that cannot get the help they need without the VA. Now there is a renewed push to let VA docs talk to their patients about the possibility of medical marijuana in states where medical marijuana is legal. Dina Titus, a Nevada Congresswoman, states that it’s time for the VA “to get with the 21st century” and legalize medical marijuana in states where it is legal. Titus is part of a bi-partisan effort to get the VA secretary to change policy and allow VA doctors to recommend it where it’s legal.
In the meantime, veterans across the country continue to suffer from debilitating conditions that marijuana can help. One veteran visiting Las Vegas ReLeaf explains that these efforts are already 50 years too late. He had to go to a private doctor to receive his medical marijuana recommendation, but he knows that many veterans are not able to access this “releaf” without help from the VA – a federal agency who continues to turn a blind eye.
Another veteran states that “we are done suffering” and “something needs to be changed.” Medical marijuana helped her with PTSD and pain while trying to reintegrate into society, something with which many veterans struggle.
Now is the time to push for the call from congress, to give other vets the same opportunity to feel better after fighting for our country and to give vets access to the best medical care possible.