Military Connection: Is Pot a Viable Alternative Pain Treatment?


By Debbie Gregory.

Do you think pot should be legalized to manage pain? A group of Veterans in North Carolina think so, and are pushing for the state to legalize its use. The retired noncommissioned officers and officers are at the core of the growing North Carolina Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, or N.C. RAMP.

Edwin McClannan, one of the members of N.C. RAMP, is a retired Army first sergeant who injured his spine during a parachute accident, and now lives in constant pain. His doctor prescribed a long list of medications, none of which eliminated his pain like the marijuana cupcake he accidently ate.

McClannan is part of a growing group of Veterans who have found marijuana to be a relief from pain, post-traumatic stress and depression. The group’s president, David Hargitt, said they don’t fit the old marijuana advocate stereotypes; something he hopes will help the cause of legalization.

By promoting medical marijuana every Tuesday, Hargitt has become a regular face at the state legislature. House Bill 78, was introduced last month by Rep. Kelly Alexander, a Mecklenburg County Democrat. This bill marks Alexander’s fourth attempt at legalizing medical marijuana.

For the first time, it has attracted more than a dozen co-sponsors, including Rep. Garland E. Pierce, a Democrat who represents Scotland, Hoke, Richmond, and Robeson counties. But what the bill lacks is bipartisan support in a Republican-controlled legislature. None of the co-sponsors are Republican.

Hargitt hopes a similar bill will be introduced by a Republican, as the issue is becoming more attractive to Republicans for more than just the medicinal uses. According to reports, legal medical marijuana could bring in an additional $100 million in tax revenue in North Carolina alone. Additionally, it would eliminate border violence, unnecessary criminal records, and could help injured Veterans and civilians alike.

A recent survey of North Carolina voters by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling found 69% of those asked thought a doctor should be allowed to prescribe marijuana for medical use. Another 10% were “not sure.”

However, as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, this means veterans who receive their care from the Department of Veterans Affairs could be prohibited from using it.

A bill sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand could end a federal ban on medical marijuana, proposing it is left to each particular state to decide to legalize or illegalize it. This bill would allow VA doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, and would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug, defined as one with no medical value, to a Schedule II drug. A separate bill, introduced in the U.S. House in February, would allow VA physicians to discuss and recommend medical marijuana to their patients.

Which begs the question, what do you think? Should marijuana be legalized?

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Military Connection: Is Pot a Viable Alternative Pain Treatment?: By Debbie Gregory