The country’s largest veterans organization released a new study which found that a vast majority of veterans, along with their caregivers, want the federal government to legalize medical cannabis and conduct more cannabis-related research.
A study by the American Legion showed that when surveyed, 82 percent of veterans and caregivers stated that they are in favor marijuana being federally legalized. An even greater number - 92 percent, wanted the government to conduct marijuana research.
The survey also strongly indicated that legalization of medical marijuana is a bipartisan issue. 88 percent of veterans who identified themselves as conservatives said that they would support legalization and 90 percent of those identifying as liberals stated that they would be in favor of legalization.
Josh Frey, a Marine Corps veteran took dozens of prescribed drugs, including methadone and Klonopin, after he received injuries while serving in Fallujah Iraq during 2004. He spoke before veterans and lawmakers at the Capitol and said that smoking cannabis has helped to get him off of prescription drugs that made him feel like a vegetable.
In an interview, Frey stated, ”Before medical marijuana, I would have been drooling on myself. Actually, I really don’t even know before marijuana, because I was such… it was such a crazy time in my life. It’s all a blur. After marijuana? I got a family, I remember, I’m doing things.”
Fortunately for Frey, he lives in Tampa where medical cannabis is legal. But he’s concerned about other veterans who don’t have access to the life-changing treatment that he has benefited from.
There are 29 states in which medical cannabis is legal. Veterans who receive treatment at VA hospitals aren’t given cannabis as an option.
VA secretary David Shulkin told reporters at the White House earlier in the year that he had a definite interest in studying how medical cannabis could benefit veterans who deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as chronic pain.
VA statistics put the level of post 9/11 veterans diagnosed with PTSD at 11-20 percent and Vietnam veterans at 15 percent.
Members of the House and the Senate have brought out bipartisan legislation in the last few months to loosen restrictions on medical cannabis research, but up to this point, those bills are still standing firm.
Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told reporters on Thursday that the House Judiciary Committee would be holding a hearing by the end of the year to analyze his bill to reschedule cannabis.