THC for PTSD - by Allison Scherer
Today on StonedClassy we wanted to take a moment to discuss a recurring problem that should be important to the entirety of the cannabis community. That is: advocating for all who need access to marijuana as medicine. This piece was inspired upon learning the shocking news that even states seen as cannabis crusaders, such as Colorado, deny medical marijuana to veterans suffering from PTSD.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a form of extreme anxiety disorder. Those traumatized live with an overwhelming and persistent fear, despite the stress causing elements no longer being present. It was first identified in 1980 after those who’d returned from Vietnam increasingly reported symptoms such as: disturbing recurring flashbacks, an avoidance of memories, recurring nightmares, and a lieu of other mental disturbances related to prior violent experiences. A similar fallout has been recurring with the surge of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
One vet under the username detroitmechworks describes it, “the feeling is pure, unadulterated dread. The certain knowledge that something terrible is going to happen, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.” And it is no wonder these soldiers feel so helpless when they are forced into an ultimatum: either participate in illegal cannabis use and a loss of federal benefits or keep their benefits along with their paranoia, flashbacks and nightmares.
Unfortunately, today existing medications such as Prozac and Paxil are the approved chemical concoctions prescribed to treat PTSD. The problem is that these medications aren’t designed to treat the severity of what some of our veterans suffer, and many feel they have nowhere to turn. The federal ban on cannabis has become a point of contention among modern soldiers. Many feel the need to uphold a federal code of conduct, and despite evidence of cannabis heavily reducing the symptoms of PTSD, many refuse to attempt the remedy because it is so stigmatized in their sphere of existence. And many more who might consider using cannabis medicinally live in places where it is simply impossible.
PTSD affects between fifty and sixty percent of Veterans in America, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. That’s a fifty percent chance that soldiers facing combat will continue to suffer the trauma for the continuation of their lifetime. And most of those people will feel helpless to find relief from these severely inhibiting symptoms. The USDVA also projects that 22 veterans commit suicide per day. That’s 8,030 people per year. And that is not counting the multiple un-successful attempts that go unreported.
So what can we do to help? Donating to organizations that support medical marijuana for soldiers is one way to start. Some examples would be supporting campaigns such as #smokeoutveteransuicide and the weed for warriors project. Another would be to contact your local legislators and encourage them to lend their public support to afflicted veterans. The last is likely the easiest and most helpful thing you can do to help a local veteran, simply talk to them and share a bowl. Treat them like human beings and understand their experiences have been different than yours. Let’s heal our soldiers with compassion, knowledge, and acceptance. We owe them that. It is a sad day when government entities care more about preserving prohibition than protecting their most loyal citizens.