On July 10th 2014 three representatives from the Louisville Veterans Affairs Hospital testified before the Kentucky Assembly Interim Session Hearing of the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee. The VA Representatives testified that although they use many mental health therapies and dozens of pharmaceuticals to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, there is no medicine that works for PTSD. They reported that there are 350,000 cases of PTSD among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. This does not count the results of the National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study the findings of which were presented at the American Psychological Association on August 9, 2014. That study found 283,000 active cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among Vietnam Veterans. Added to the cases reported by the VA for Iraq and Afghanistan and we are now talking about 633,000 active cases of PTSD. Korean, Gulf War and Veterans of the many conflicts of the Cold War are not included in this number. In all we could be looking at three quarters of a million active cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder based entirely on the VA’s own numbers!
The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa saw one of the brave doctors working to contain the outbreak infected with the disease and close to losing his life. The medical authorities allowed those treating the doctor to try an experimental medicine never tried on humans derived from the tobacco plant. To the relief of all concerned it seems to have worked. The doctor is recovering and the medicine is being looked at as a breakthrough in the treatment of the virus. Dire circumstances prompted the action that saved the doctor. The medicine could have just as easily hurt as helped the patient.
The situation with Veteran Post traumatic Stress Disorder is just as dire and given the number of cases approaching three quarters of a million Veterans, could be considered epidemic. The VA in dealing with this epidemic has used every conventional mental health therapy and pharmaceutical they can with minimal to zero effect. The VA itself, as it did in the Kentucky hearing, reports there is no medicine effective for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The VA would be correct in their reporting except for the fact that there is a medicine that is effective for PTSD and unlike the experimental Ebola medicine, has been used for thousands of years by humans with complete safety. Thousands of Veterans use medical cannabis to treat their PTSD in the States having medical cannabis laws all across the nation and they report it’s efficacy in treating their PTSD. As was reported in the Kentucky hearing by the two Veterans who testified, medical cannabis has returned to them a quality of life in dealing with their condition that no medicine or therapy provided by the VA has been able to give them.
Veterans, siting the magnitude of the epidemic of PTSD, are calling for the immediate implementation of a program to provide medical cannabis to Veterans suffering with PTSD and to begin a study aimed at determining the benefits of medical cannabis for PTSD and any other conditions which might benefit from cannabis therapy.
The sacrifice of these Veterans, which continues for some till death, and the huge number of cases demands that we do everything our power to relieve and mitigate the suffering of these heroes. The Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study showed that the risk of early death among Vietnam Veterans with PTSD is twice as high as those without the condition and for many Veterans is a life long struggle. Their circumstances are no less dire than that of the infected Doctor. We have the medicine. Let us begin immediately to do the ethical work required to get this medicine to those who need and deserve it.