There is an epidemic in this country – and it’s not Ebola. Everyday, at least 22 veterans take their own lives. And not only do we stand aside and watch (or ignore) these men and women whom we claim to support: we also support – through our lazy voting habits – the very laws that keep many of these warriors from accessing medicines from which they could possibly benefit.
In the past 10 years since leaving the Army, I have talked to dozens of war veterans who self-medicate with cannabis on a regular basis to help lessen the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A few of these men served in my unit. Others I’ve met along the way. Some, like my good friend A.G. House, are vocal in their advocating for cannabis decriminalization and/or legalization. Most keep quite out of fear of legal repercussions. Some (like myself), who are drug tested randomly as a condition of their employment, are forced to forgo taking advantage of what we consider an effective and helpful treatment.
And it’s not just about marijuana. Studies have shown that many psychedelic plant medicines such as ayahuasca, ibogaine and psilocybin may be extremely effective in treating (and possibly curing) PTSD, anxiety, depression and other psychological disorders. Just how effective? We won’t really know until scientists and doctors can legally study these substances on a larger scale.
And yet, we continue to allow our veterans to suffer, be imprisoned and occasionally even killed over the silly prohibition of a harmless plant.
Today is Veterans Day. I ask that you consider your veterans as well as the millions of other people who our failed War on Drugs has negatively impacted over the past 40 years. And although the midterms have just passed, the next time you go to the polls to exercise your right to vote, please don’t cast a ballot for any politician who is in favor of continuing the War on Drugs – which is, more accurately, a war on people. And please take the time to write your congressman on a regular basis and inform them that if they wish to retain their lucrative elected positions, then they had best get on the right side of history and truly support the troops that they are constantly using as political fodder in their reelection campaigns.
At least 22 suicides a day. Probably more. It’s past time to start taking this seriously. And while nobody is claiming that cannabis is the panacea to this epidemic, at the very least, we should be exploring every possible approach that may benefit these vets. And no one should have to step outside the law and risk their career – or their freedom – to do so.
Author: Nick Allison is just a banged-up Army Infantry vet of the War in Iraq. He lives in Austin, TX with his wife, their children and two big, dumb, ugly mongrel dogs. Don’t take anything he says too seriously… he’s just trying to figure out this ride we call existence like everyone else. Also, he enjoys writing his own bio in third-person because it probably makes him feel more important.
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