Veterans Battle for Cannabis as a Treatment for PTSD

PTSD, suffered by far too many veterans, is triggered by a terrifying event that is either seen or experienced. It can cause crippling nightmares, suicidal thoughts and repeated memories of the event.

But veterans’ group are becoming increasingly vocal about cannabis to treat PTSD. And statehouses are listening, even if the federal government isn’t.

‘I Love People Again’

Retired Marine staff sergeant Mark DiPasquale said that cannabis freed him from opioids, anti-anxiety pills and other medications that he was prescribed to for migraines, PTSD and other ailments suffered while serving.

“I just felt like a zombie, and I wanted to hurt somebody,” DiPasquale told CBS News. He is a co-founder of the Veterans Cannabis Collective Foundation, a group that educates vets on how cannabis can be used as a viable treatment.

“Do I still have PTSD? Absolutely … (But) “I’m back to my old self. I love people again.”

How Cannabis Works for PTSD Sufferers

Because of its federal status as a Schedule I drug, cannabis is regarded as having no medicinal use. This hampers research into so many benefits afflicted veterans report – anxiety relief, sleep aid and a host of other conditions.

Marijuana has two main substances that affect these issues: THC and CBD. THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the ingredient that causes the euphoria most-commonly associated with cannabis. THC is known to relieve anxiety and many veterans gravitate toward high-THC cannabis strains. Researchers worry however, it may mask symptoms in some people.

More promise appears to be with CBD, short for cannabidiol, which promotes sleep and may lead to long-term help. What little science there is, unfortunately, focuses on THC. While CBD remains while promising, largely untested.

Cannabis Treatment For PTSD – New Studies

Marcel Bonn-Miller, a psychology and psychiatry professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, is conducting one of the first real studies of cannabis and PTSD. He is optimistic … to a point.

“It’s early. We really don’t understand the mechanisms of action that well at this point,” he told Scientific American. But he alluded to the cannabis’s potential: “Something that can reduce seizures, improve anxiety and also reduce inflammation … All in the same drug!”

The American Legion Leads the Fight – Cannabis Over Opioids

With its 2.2 million members, the American Legion is the largest group in the battle on behalf of veterans. While many advocacy organizations work at the state level, the American Legion has engaged the federal government and, specifically, the Veterans Administration.

As an arm of the federal government, the VA was in the unfortunate position of having its bosses in D.C. and most of its clients in cannabis-friendly states. The Legion has lobbied for veteran access to medical marijuana in those states. So far, the current administration isn’t budging.

Denise Rohan, the American Legion’s national commander, testified before Congress on the matter. Prior to that, in a meeting with reporters at the National Press Club, she explained the organization’s stance on medical marijuana, as reported by Leafly.

“The American Legion is all about making sure that veterans are taken care of,” she said. “We have to find replacements for the opioid epidemic that we have in this nation.”

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