The Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have taken a toll on more than just the U.S. Defense Department's budget. Veterans are returning from the war bearing the scars of battle, and many are finding it difficult to transition to everyday life. Studies show that as many as 20 percent of all vets coming home from this conflict are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Could a cannabis vaporizer be part of the solution for these vets? We may soon find out.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a mental health condition that occurs after someone lives through a frightening, stressful event. People who suffer from PTSD may experience many debilitating symptoms, including flashbacks, depression, tension, difficulty sleeping, uncontrolled anger, and intense anxiety. PTSD sufferers may act out, harming themselves and others, which makes it a serious concern, not just for those who have the condition, but also for their families and the general public.
PTSD & Vaporizers
Since medical marijuana laws have made access to cannabis legal in more and more places, there have been reported cases of people with PTSD, who were not veterans, getting relief from symptoms, when smoking or vaporizing marijuana.
Chart credit to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Many scientists and medical professionals believe that using cannabis in a dry herb vaporizer could help to alleviate the symptoms of the condition; however, so far, U.S. vets are unable to take advantage of the potential benefits of using a vaporizer if they receive their medical care through the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA). Since marijuana is listed as an illegal substance at the federal level, VA doctors cannot prescribe a marijuana to patients with PTSD.
An Example from Canada
Not all countries block veterans' access to marijuana vaporizer pens. In Canada, veterans with PTSD are able to purchase and use marijuana vape pens at specially licensed facilities known as "vapour rooms". There was even a story in the news at the beginning of the year about a marijuana treatment facility opening a new location near a Canadian military base in New Brunswick, specifically to meet the needs of the many service members, who are getting relief from PTSD symptoms using a marijuana vaporizer.
More Study Needed
At this time, the U.S. government's official position on vets with PTSD vaping marijuana is that there is not enough research to prove that it is safe and effective, because no formal studies have been done. After petitions from the public and encouragement from medical providers, the federal government approved a full- scale study of the use of marijuana to treat PTSD in veterans. The study will involve roughly 76 veterans and should begin soon.
There is also a bill currently in committee in the House of Representatives, called the Veterans Equal Access Act, which would allow VA health care professionals to offer medical marijuana as a treatment in states where it has been made legal. The bill was sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). If you're in favor of this legislation, let your U.S. Congressman and Senators know.