By Debbie Gregory.
Attitudes towards the use of medical marijuana have been undergoing rapid changes. For many people who are in pain, medical marijuana is the only medicine that relieves pain and suffering, or treats symptoms of their medical condition, without debilitating side effects.
There is a plethora of scientific research establishing medical marijuana as a safe and effective alternative to pharmaceuticals. Perhaps that has contributed to the majority of Americans supporting the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Included in that majority are U.S. military veterans and veteran caregivers. A recent poll conducted on behalf of the American Legion found that while 82% of respondents supported the legalization of medical cannabis, 92% supported expanded research into the medical benefits of the drug.
It has been argued that medical marijuana can be used to treat or manage the symptoms of a variety of ailments that affect veterans, including chronic pain, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. It has also been thought that cannabis can be helpful in addressing the serious epidemic of veteran suicide.
While it is unlawful for VA doctors to prescribe marijuana as it is a Schedule 1 substance, in states where medical marijuana is legal, VA providers are allowed to discuss marijuana use with veterans as part of comprehensive care planning, and adjust treatment plans as necessary.
Additionally, there is a push to reschedule the drug to a Schedule II or III. That would automatically lift the barriers to research, and allow VA health care providers to immediately prescribe marijuana in states where it is legal.
According to the American Legion’s poll, one in five veterans surveyed consume marijuana “to alleviate a medical or physical condition.”
And it no longer needs to be smoked… medical marijuana is often administered to patients in alternative ways, including inhalers, pills, and even edible baked goods. These means of dispensation have proven to be healthier and sometimes more effective in relieving patients’ pain or discomfort.