California Veterans Group Distributes Free Cannabis
A local veterans organization in Santa Cruz, California, has begun providing free medical cannabis to area veterans.
Local nonprofit Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance now distributes free medical cannabis to veterans in the belief that the substance can be used to treat such medical conditions effectively as PTSD and addiction to prescription painkillers.
According to Jason Sweatt, one of the co-founders of the group, veterans have been hit especially hard by the country’s prescription painkiller epidemic and are in need of other options.
“What veterans need, what everyone needs, is alternatives to prescription medications. Not just narcotics, but also the wide range of antidepressants and their adverse side effects,” he said.
Addictions to prescription painkillers have grown astronomically in America in recent years. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control, Americans’ abuse of prescription painkillers has reached the levels of an epidemic.
“The number of overdose deaths is now greater than those of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined,” the CDC wrote. “A big part of the problem is the nonmedical use of prescription painkillers — using drugs without a prescription… In 2010, about 12 million Americans (age 12 or older) reported nonmedical use of prescription painkillers in the past year.”
Medical cannabis is increasingly seen — especially amongst veterans groups — as an effective treatment for both chronic pain and addiction to prescription painkillers. The House of Representatives recently passed a measure allowing VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis in the states in which it is legal.
State governments have also been getting aboard the medical-cannabis bandwagon. Veterans groups have advocated across the country to make medical cannabis more available to vets statewide.
For some Santa Cruz veterans, the choice between prescription painkillers and medical cannabis is a no-brainer.
“I’ve had nine surgeries in the last six years,” says Army veteran Timote Peterson, 64. “Medical marijuana is far preferable to where I was a few years ago. These guys have helped me out.
“Medical marijuana is not perfect,” he continued. “It isn’t that effective for really acute pain, but it is a damn sight better than most the other stuff they prescribe to you.”
There have yet to be any controlled substances to test the safety and effectiveness in using medical cannabis to treat such medical conditions as PTSD. However, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has evidently warmed to the idea of using cannabis in PTSD’s treatment: the agency recently approved the first clinical study for the substance’s use in treatment for the condition.