Vets Protest PTSD Denial With Free Marijuana

   

Colorado vets protest PTSD denial with free marijuana after the Colorado Board of Health voted down a proposal to add post-traumatic stress as a qualifying condition under the state’s medical marijuana law. The denial by the Colorado board is similar to the denial of PTSD as a qualifying condition for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) by a similar board comprised in Oregon. One of my mentors, attorney Leland Berger, submitted two applications in Oregon that were denied by stacked health boards (I assisted the second application as a young attorney). Eventually, the Oregon Legislature added PTSD as a qualifying condition, thanks to lobbying led by longtime activist Anthony Taylor, Executive Director of the patient advocacy group Compassionate Oregon. Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) statistics show that 4,635 patients have included PTSD as a qualifying condition as of July 1, 2015.

A recent study detailed the troubling veteran suicide statistics:

The analysis matched military records with the National Death Index, which collects data on every U.S. death. It tracked the veterans after service until the end of the 2009, finding a total of 1,868 suicides.

That equates to an annual suicide rate of 29.5 per 100,000 veterans, or roughly 50% higher than the rate among other civilians with similar demographic characteristics.

The issue of veteran suicide has become a political cause for activists and legislators. One statistic has become a rallying cry: 22 veterans take their own lives each day.

The study found that the suicide rate was slightly higher among vets who never served in Afghanistan and Iraq, showing that post-traumatic stress and other issues that can lead to suicide go beyond the the horrors of war. Veterans, and concerned citizens of all stripes are understandably upset by the Colorado decision; while research on the issue is scarce, something needs to be done to try and alleviate the consequences of PTSD as there are now more than 41,000 deaths a year from suicide in the U.S. CBS Denver covered the free marijuana protest:

Hundreds of Colorado veterans waited in a long line in Denver on Saturday for free cannabis products.

The free handouts were set up as a sign of protest to a decision by the state’s health board not to allow post-traumatic-stress disorder as a treatable condition for medical marijuana.

The cannabis giveaway was set up by Grow4Vets founder Roger Martin and Todd Mitchem, CEO of a company called High There! — a sort of social networking tool for pot users.

(Emphasis added)

Hopefully, Colorado advocates can lobby for a similar as the suicide rate of American military veterans is a tragic epidemic and a national disgrace. Additionally, victims of severe trauma across all demographics may be able to benefit from cannabis. Considering the tragic ordeals that many people suffer thru and the lack of effective treatments available, victims of post-traumatic stress should be able to utilize cannabis if recommended by a medical professional. Even in states like Oregon and Colorado where marijuana is legal for adults, medical acceptance of one’s condition can be very important for a number of reasons as patients receive tax breaks, designated growers can cultivate for patients and folks suffering from post-traumatic stress should feel safe when speaking to healthcare professionals about the treatments they are seeking. While the denial of PTSD by the Colorado Board of Health is disappointing for so many, please know that the fight isn’t over and the truth and compassion can still win in the end.

 

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.