Here at KY NORML one of the major pillars of our organization is education. We try to stay on top of as much information as possible to bring the people of Kentucky information regarding cannabis that is relevant to them, and there are none more relevant in our Commonwealth than our veterans. Kentucky has a long and proud history of sending men and women to serve this country with distinction and honor.
But serving sometimes comes at a cost, some more visible than others but always there. Many vets coming home have experienced high-stress situations those who haven’t served can scarcely comprehend. A retrospective review of PTSD patients' symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Post-traumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.
According to other studies, "[c]annabis may dampen the strength or emotional impact of traumatic memories through synergistic mechanisms that might make it easier for people with PTSD to rest or sleep and to feel less anxious and less involved with flashback memories... Evidence is increasingly accumulating that cannabinoids might play a role in fear extinction and anti-depressive effects."
Many vets come back with more obvious injuries and these are usually treated through a myriad of prescription medications, such as opioids. These medications have burdened a generation with addiction, but the Journal of Health Economics stated, “medical marijuana laws reduce the misuse of prescription opioids, as reflected in treatment admissions and overdose deaths, primarily through the allowance and opening of dispensaries.” The American Legion also advocates for access to cannabis to veterans, and see cannabis as a way to get our vets off of opioids.
But vets are getting more options than ever before when seeking treatments. Congress has two bills that have been brought up this session that would greatly affect veterans access to cannabis. The first is the VA medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 which would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to use the authority of the Secretary to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis, and for other purposes. And the second is Veterans Equal Access Act which would authorize Department of Veterans Affairs health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions to veterans regarding participation in State marijuana programs.
We urge each Kentuckian to write or call your Congressman, and tell them to support bills like the ones above so that our veterans can have the freedom, for which they sacrificed much, to seek the treatments they need. Our veterans are vitally important to our Commonwealth and its future. That’s why it is crucial that our veterans needs are taken care of when cannabis legislation is implemented in Kentucky and one of the many reasons why we are working with our legislators to ensure that it happens.
Executive Director, KY NORML