PTSD & Pot: Veterans making Memorial Day push for legal marijuana

Veterans from across the country is going to be gathering in our nation’s capital upon Memorial Day this year to not just honor those who made the ultimate give up, but to advocate for a trigger that isn’t typically associated with our place’s heroes — the legalization associated with marijuana.

Derek Cloutier (right), president plus founder of the New England Experienced Alliance, meets with other veterans in the NECANN cannabis & hemp conference in Burlington, Vermont. Cloutier structured and will be speaking at a Memorial Day time rally in Washington, D. Chemical., to promote veterans’ access to legal cannabis.   (Fox News)

The veterans plus advocates taking part in the Memorial Time Experienced Rally DC wish to change the stigma that surrounds marijuana, the preferred term for marijuana amongst advocates, by arguing that this substitute medicine is already helping some vets treat issues like PTSD, persistent pain and depression — all of the without the use of dangerous & addicting prescription drugs like opioids. One of their own rallying cries is “plants more than pills, ” and they’re not just from the usual legal pot hot-spots such as Colorado.

The speakers are traveling through places as far west because Alaska, as far south since Texas, and as far north since New England to support the cause, and also to share their stories of how lawful marijuana helped ease their discomfort, alleviate symptoms of PTSD, and even return into the workforce. Among those scheduled in order to speak are one of the first responders towards the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, the particular mom of a 24-year-old Sea who took his own life right after battling PTSD, and the owner of the veteran-operated cannabis company focused on “medical cannabis for military experienced. ”

Beyond a lack of access in all fifty states, advocates say one of the biggest troubles is that veterans are forced to pay for this particular alternative treatment out of pocket, in spite of what they say are life-saving outcomes. That’s due to Department of Experienced Affairs regulations which state VA doctors still cannot recommend medicinal marijuana to patients, even though they are allowed to “discuss marijuana sa veterans as part of comprehensive care preparing. ”

“It is clear that medical analysis into the safety and efficacy associated with cannabis usage for medical reasons is timely, necessary, and broadly supported by the veteran community. inch

– Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn


Which could soon change, and advocates might wind up having the VA to say thanks to for it. Earlier this month, Our elected representatives passed a bill making the Section of Veterans affairs the first federal government agency to conduct research in to the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis. Deficiency of federal research has been one of the biggest problems in the debate over the potential advantages of legal cannabis, medicinal or otherwise.

The Veterans Matters Medicinal Cannabis Research Act associated with 2018 was forced over the finish line thanks to the overpowering support of veterans across the country. The 2017 survey released by the United states Legion, a congressionally-charted veterans team, revealed 92 percent of experienced households support further research in to the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis. One more 83 percent of veterans stated they support the legalization associated with cannabis nationwide, and 82 % expressed a desire for it to become federally-legal treatment option.  

In a press release , American Legion officials also observed that veterans don’t just assistance more research, “22 percent associated with veterans are currently using cannabis to deal with a medical condition. ”

Those poll amounts did not fall on deaf hearing. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., the particular chairman of the House Committee on Experienced affairs and himself a medical professional, argued “it is clear that healthcare research into the safety and effectiveness of cannabis usage for healthcare purposes is timely, necessary, plus widely supported by the veteran local community. ” Rep. Roe, who is furthermore the co-chair of the House GOP Physicians Caucus and a member of the Health Caucus, mentioned PTSD specifically in suggesting for the study, before adding that will veterans might not be the only ones who seem to benefit from such a study.

The bill, this individual argued, is “a pragmatic plus bipartisan piece of legislation that would enhance our understanding of the impacts associated with medicinal marijuana usage and could enhance the lives of veterans and other Us citizens. ”


Derek Cloutier, a Marine who already utilizes medicinal cannabis for his PTSD and chronic pain, says permitting the VA to conduct studies a good “baby step, ” yet it’s too early to tell how much great it will do. In the meantime, he says a lot of veterans will continue to suffer due to VA policies regarding cannabis — even in states where it is medicinally legal. For some, that means breaking the law simply so they can get their hands on what they say is really a more effective, and less dangerous, form of therapy.

Products for the New England Veterans Connections, as seen at the NECANN marijuana & hemp convention in Burlington, Vermont.   (Fox News)

“I’ve been informed straight by a vet that I can a VA hospital and be recommended opiates, Adderall — anything when they play their cards right, and go sell the pills on the roads… just so they can buy cannabis plus heal themselves, ” Cloutier states.

Cloutier returned from his deployment within Fallujah, Iraq, and found themself in a less-than-ideal employment situation for any veteran struggling with symptoms of PTSD — working as a maximum-security prison safeguard. “That exacerbated my PTSD ten-fold, ” he says, and it didn’t assist when ISIS started re-taking control over the same cities he fought in order to liberate.

Cloutier would drink heavily during the night to numb himself from each his growing PTSD symptoms, as well as the stresses of his new work. He says the support groups for experienced that he tried weren’t of much assist, either, with most meetings usually ending with a night of drinking. This wasn’t until a friend recommended marijuana as an alternative to both the alcohol, and the prescription medications Cloutier was taking, that he lastly got a good night’s sleep. Together with it came a new purpose in every area of your life.

Due to laws in Massachusetts, where Cloutier lives, he is legally allowed to develop and consume his own cannabis. Right now, he’s working tirelessly to help various other veterans find that same peace of mind simply by organizing events like the Memorial Day time rally, and through a group this individual created called the New England Veterans Connections   (NEVA).


Part of the problem, according to Cloutier, is the fact that most people –particularly veterans — continue to be scared to even talk about marijuana, something he chalks up to the remains of the so-called “reefer madness” from the early 20th century. Breaking down individuals barriers is one of the main reasons he says using the NEVA.

“I’ve been told straight with a vet that I can go to a VETERANS ADMINISTRATION hospital and be prescribed opiates, Adderall ir – anything if they play their own cards right, and then go market the pills on the streets… just to allow them to buy cannabis and heal them selves, ”

– Derek Cloutier, Experienced

“The more I actually learned about it, the more I knowledgeable myself about it… the stigma emerged down, the stereotypes came lower, ” Cloutier said. “All these types of walls around me, that I had been terrified to say I’m a marijuana user… that’s part of the problem. inch

Along with NEVA, Cloutier hopes to connect along with and educate veterans who might be thinking about the world of medicinal weed, but who are too scared in order to ask anyone about it because of VIRTUAL ASSISTANT policies, or social stigmas. Given that starting his group, he’s found out veterans of WWII and Vietnam, and even a former VA doctor, that are using cannabis for treatment.

A cannabis plant flourishing under grow lamps at a warehouse in Denver.   (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

While Cloutier certainly considers it a win whenever he convinces vets to forget their opioid prescriptions for marijuana, he notes there are plenty of other benefits to becoming more knowledgeable about cannabis. A lot of NEVA’s members have taken their newly found knowledge to secure jobs in the widening cannabis industry.

And even if it doesn’t result in a job, Cloutier argues that the procedure for growing and cultivating the plant alone can be a major benefit –particularly when you have served. “The biggest thing will be giving a vet a purpose, inch Cloutier said. “Not everyday can i want to get up and care for [my plants], but I have to if I wish to help myself. You need to check on this, water it, care for it.

“In the particular military, that’s the opposite of exactly what you’re doing, at least for an soldires guy like me. You’re taught in order to destroy, you’re war-torn and battle-ready, but cannabis brings people jointly — growing, smoking and eating. And it’s something that’ll continue to provide people together more and more, ” this individual argued.


Not all veterans agree with Cloutier. Many other Marine and retired Staff Sgt. Johnny Joey Jones says your dog is tried cannabis before, and states that veterans who use it in order to ween themselves off of prescription drugs such as opioids are just “trading one higher for another. ” He says what we really should be doing is fixing the issues that veterans are coming house with, not just adding a new kind of band-aid that he says doesn’t have much research to back this.

Jones agrees that the VA conducting established research is a good first step, yet he’s also concerned that their fellow vets are becoming “pawns” about what is quickly becoming a multimillion-dollar online game of chess between lawmakers plus lobbyists.

Some of Jones’ fellow vets, as well as some of his family are using marijuana — and suggested he give it a try himself. One of them has managed to remain off of pills for five many years because of it, but Jones nevertheless isn’t convinced.

And when it comes to the potential work benefits, or the therapy that recommends say can come from simply developing the plant, Jones had a simple reaction. “I went down to Loews as well as for $500 I bought all of the tools and equipment I must make furniture in my garage, inch he said. “And that’s something which I can do legally in all fifty states. ”