I belong to a group advocating for veteran access to medical cannabis.
Our Director has issued a memorial day statement you might find newsworthy.
The message is as follows--
Veterans Press Statement:
Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access [VMCA]
Monday, Memorial Day, 28 May 2012
White House replies to Veterans petition: http://wh.gov/4xd
Thousands of Veterans requested the Obama Administration to look
into the reliable science now available showing exactly how
cannabis works to alleviate suffering of Veterans pain and
save the lives of Veterans with brain injuries such
as PTSD and therefore make appropriate changes in policy.
According to Dr. Julie Holland, Editor of The Pot Book and a
medical doctor, there have been more suicides than combat fatalities
by a ratio of 25:1. This, given how effectively cannabis works
to save lives, is an unacceptable loss.
Recent research has revealed two things of great importance - one is
that suicide rates drop around the implementation of medical marijuana
laws and the other is that new research indicates similar brain changes from
athletic head injuries, military head trauma and brain changes from
Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis. New research available shows how a human
body-wide set of control functions called the Endogenous Cannabinoid Receptor
System may be activated by the ingestion of cannabis to cause both neural
protection and neural regenerative properties to help relieve these
difficult to treat medical conditions.
We Veterans petitioned the Obama Administration to: "Allow United States
Disabled Military Veterans access to medical marijuana to treat their PTSD."
The White House response to our petition was very disappointing. We
asked for a change in policy. To have our petition answered by the drug czar,an
ex policeman, is most inappropriate given the drug czar is bound by law to ONLY
discuss current law and has no power to discuss policy change with the public.
Even the lowest ranking staffer at the White House or anyone from the Veterans
Health Authority would have been more appropriate.
Al Byrne, retired Naval Officer and co-founder of VMCA, was blunt in his
assessment of the White House concern for injured Veterans:
"Vets have used cannabis for PTS since the Revolutionary War.
We know what we need and to be told by our President, the Commander in Chief,
that he does not care about those he has sent to war by denying medicine to
the wounded is
The Department of Veterans Affairs is also now in direct conflict with the
According to the Veterans Affairs, Undersecretary
of Health in correspondence with our Executive Director, Michael Krawitz:
"The provider (VA) will take the use of medical marijuana into account in all
prescribing decisions, just as the provider would for any other medication.�"
The president, when asked why he doesn't do something positive about medical
marijuana, is quoted in Rolling Stone magazine as saying "I can't nullify
congressional law. I can't ask the Justice Department to say, 'Ignore completely
a federal law that's on the books." [2.]
If that is truly the president's position it is either based upon ignorance of
his power or he is playing politics. The president can do many things - the DEA
was created by an executive order! The president could ask NIDA to stop blocking
research or he could ask HHS to finally follow the recommendations of the Institute
of Medicine [IOM] or he could ask Congress
to move forward on the issue or he could even properly reschedule cannabis as a
medicine by executive order. The president could do so many things but instead seems
to be sacrificing our nations Veterans. [3.]
One irony of the drug czar's response to our petition is that his words seem
to be lifted right from the IOM report of 1999 that was actually commissioned by
the drug czar of that day, General McCaffrey. The IOM report did indeed say
that cannabis holds great promise in the future as a pharmaceutical but it
then went on to say that we know enough about the plant material [in 1999]
to give the whole plant material to those patients most in need right now
[in 1999!]. Don't Veterans suffering and dying classify as patients in
Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access thought you should know
of this shameful mendacious policy of ignorance.
First President Obama's administration ejected medical marijuana patients
from the workplace then he threw them out of public housing then took away
their ability to buy a gun then closed down their dispensaries and now
he has apparently set his sites on Veterans.
1. VHA letter of July 6, 2010, signed R. A.
Petzel, MD, Department of Veterans Affairs, Under Secretary of Health.
2. Ready for the Fight: Rolling Stone Interview with Barack Obama
3. MARIJUANA AND MEDICINE -- Assessing the Science Base
Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A. Benson, Jr., Editors
Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Health
INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.
Michael Krawitz Executive Director VMCA
3551 Flatwoods Road, Elliston, Virginia, USA
Msgt Thomas Vance USAF Ret.
17 Meadow Ln
Alexandria, Ky 41001
PS- Here is the Memorial piec I wrote for this weeks blog post.
I'm sending them to Mr Holthaus but I have not heard from him since
You wrote me back telling me he would contact me.
Memorial Day, the day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the
liberty and continued existence of the Nation. We can not honor them enough or
pay them enough for the gift of their lives to preserve our way of life. After
WWII veterans who had survived their service were also included as deserving the
respect and gratitude of the nation on this sacred day. While many Veterans
have given their lives, many more live with wounds and disabilities that cause
them lifelong pain and suffering. Their struggle goes on day after day and they
bear it with dignity and without complaint. They deserve the best that our
medical professionals can provide to make their lives as productive and their
suffering as bearable as we can make it. The Veterans Administration is
dedicated to doing this with all the tools it can muster. The VA does a
remarkable job and is to be praised for it.
The VA has even gone so far as to establish a policy regarding medical marijuana
which relieves the patients from fear of losing their medical care if they test
positive for medical marijuana in a VA urinalysis. Prior to this new policy, the
VA would withhold medical care for patients testing positive, forcing them to
choose between a medicine that works to relieve their suffering or VA medical
care itself being withheld as some sort of punishment meted out only to medical
marijuana users. Fortunately this unofficial policy has been ended and does not
apply to Veteran medical marijuana users in States that have medical marijuana
This is some progress but it is not enough. It is time for the Veterans
Administration to establish a program to provide medical marijuana to those
Veterans who can benefit from what has proven to be an effective medicine for
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and chronic neuropathic pain. These conditions
are common among wounded warriors and are only two of the many conditions
medical marijuana is effective in treating.
Currently two of America’s closest allies Israel and Canada provide medical
marijuana to their Veterans who can benefit from it. Americas Veterans deserve
no less than the best care we can offer them. The Veteran’s Administration
could very easily provide vouchers to Veteran medical marijuana patients in
states that already have medical marijuana laws allowing the Veterans to get
their medicine directly from Medical Marijuana Pharmacies. In states without
medical marijuana laws the Government could include these Veterans with the
patients that are left over from the old Compassionate Care Program killed by
President H.W. Bush. These patients still receive their medical marijuana from
the Governments marijuana farm in Mississippi on a monthly basis.
Veterans who suffer daily from the pain of their injuries deserve nothing less
than our full dedication to easing their suffering. Medical Marijuana has been
fully vetted in 17 states and the District of Columbia. It’s ability to
positively affect medical outcomes for patients in a variety of illnesses is
unquestioned. There is no logical, scientific or moral justification for not
providing this medicine to those Veterans who can benefit from it.
These Veterans have given all and those, although injured, who did not die from
their service, suffer still and die a little every day. It is our duty and
obligation to provide them with all the care and compassion we can muster. To
do any less is to betray the very sacrifices they made.