America’s veterans are calling for immediate life-saving action and will march down Pennsylvania Avenue on the upcoming holiday dedicated in their honor to place a pill bottle display at the gates of the White House. The effort will mark the culmination of a Coast to Coast tour requesting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allow the nation’s troops to access cannabis as safe medication for pain and war trauma.
“I went though 100 different treatments before I finally found out that cannabis might help for me and I would hope that veterans today would shorten that,” says Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.
Presented by several organizations including Weed for Warriors Project alongside Magical Butter, Patients Out of Time and the American Cannabis Nurses Association, the the ride will begin in Los Angeles October 17 and conclude in Washington, D.C. on Veterans Day. The event is a chance to spread the promises of cannabinoid therapy, particularly in realms of neuroprotective treatment, an area that could prove life-saving for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and brain trauma.
In 2010 Krawitz, a disabled Air Force Veteran, was able to push for a change in VA policy that allowed veterans to use cannabis in states where it was legal for medical use. This policy came in the form of a memo that is set to expire on Jan. 31, 2016. Kravitz and others are hopeful that this timeline means a real change in VA policy could be enacted by the beginning of next year. Five years ago, Kravitz explained, the dialog centered on pain management, but since then studies have shown that modulating the endocannabinoid system shows promise in treating a broad range of human diseases.
“There’s just so many pills that they throw at you at the VA, at the regular hospitals at pain clinics and such and the pills just don’t seem to cover the pain the way cannabis does with the pills,” he says. “It’s like an adjunct therapy. With cannabis I can take a very, very small amount of pain medicine and have a really good effect. Without cannabis, I really can’t even take enough pain medicine to have that good of an effect.”
Facing statistics that indicate 22 veterans commit suicide each day, one of the aims of the Cannaball Run is to ensure veterans suffering from debilitating conditions such as PTSD have another option for treatment beyond pharmaceutical medication, a remedy required to display a black box suicide warning. To do so, VA doctors would have to be allowed to recommend cannabis to their patients with the potential to benefit from the medication. At each city stop on the tour the public is invited to join in the display of support towards this freedom in medicine, Magical Butter founder and CEO Garyn Angel said.
“The VA has done a great job of trying to help, they just don’t have the necessary tools to help, so we’re going to lobby for them to get the tools they need to be successful,” Angel said as he readied to embark on the 8-city driving tour. “This is just the beginning.”
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