U.S.: Veterans Increasingly Turning To Marijuana For PTSD Relief
By Steve Elliott
More and more states and considering allowing military veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to use medical marijuana for relief. But many veterans aren't waiting for permission.
Military veterans are increasingly using medicinal cannabis, although it remains illegal in most states and is frowned upon by the Department of Veterans Affairs, reports the Associated Press.
Marijuana does a lot better managing anxiety, insomnia and nightmares than the harsh pharmaceuticals approved by the federal government and handed out by the VA, according to many former members of the military. Prescription drugs such as Zoloft and Klonopin are often ineffective and make them feel like zombies, many veterans said.
"I went from being an anxious mess to numbing myself with the pills they were giving me," said 39-year-old former Marine Mike Whiter of Philadelphia, where marijuana is still illegal. "Cannabis helped me get out of the hole I was in. I started to talk to people and get over my social anxiety."
After Andy Zorn got home from serving with the Army in Iraq, he suffered from PTSD and self-medicated with cannabis. The VA diagnosed him with "marijuana dependence" as well as depression and bipolar disorder, according to his mother, Sally Schindel of Prescott, Arizona.
Schindel said her son was using marijuana not for recreation but as self-medication, particularly to help him sleep. Tragically buying into the propaganda he was hearing form his VA doctors, Andy killed himself at age 31 in 2014, writing in his suicide note that "marijuana killed my soul & ruined my brain."
Starting with New Mexico in 2009, 10 states included PTSD among the ailments for which medicinal cannabis use can be authorized, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
Measures to allow pot for PTSD have also been introduced in Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Utah. In November, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment that would have allowed VA doctors to recommend cannabis to vets in states where it's already legal. Even that proposal failed to pass the timid House.
The VA's new strategy seems to be telling veterans they're addicted to marijuana because they seek relief from it, rather than from the harsh pharmaceuticals their doctors are peddling (remember, physicians get fat kickbacks from their Big Pharma buddies for doing so).
Since 2002, the percentage of PTSD-afflicted veterans who have been diagnosed with so-called "marijuana dependence" has climbed from 13 percent to nearly 23 percent, according to VA data released last year . That means more than 40,000 veterans have been labeled addicts because they dared used a natural, non-toxic herb instead of the zombifying garbage being peddled by Big Pharma.
Whiter, the vet from Pennsylvania, said thet Klonopin left him nearly unable to function. He decided to try marijuana after reaching a point "where I didn't care if I lived or died."
"I started really engaging in therapy every week and started being really honest with myself and getting over things," he said. "I can't push enough that therapy is very key in this. It's not just weed."
Photo of Mike Whiter: Mel Evans/AP