It is estimated that over 24 million Americans, or 8% of the current population, suffers from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). The American Legion, a veterans organization that was formed nearly 100 years ago, continually spends money and time trying to combat the condition that afflicts up to 20% of all U.S. veterans. Recently the American Legion has been advocating marijuana PTSD research to help determine the role cannabis can play in treating symptoms of PTSD.
The veterans group has over 2 million active members. Many see veteran access to medical marijuana as a moral question. It is believed that 22 American veterans commit suicide every day and there is no real treatment option at the moment to deal with this epidemic. Some veterans are seeking out their own cannabis treatment.
Common Symptoms Of PTSD
“We’ve got young men and women with PTSD coming to us and saying that cannabis works,” says American Legion spokesman Joe Plenzler. Plenzler says that veterans view cannabis as a safe alternative to the addictive anti-depressants and opioids traditionally prescribed in large doses for PTSD. These drugs have negative effects on mood and can often contribute to suicidal thoughts While there isn’t an exorbitant amount of evidence, it is believed that cannabis can indeed help treat some PTSD symptoms.
PTSD is typically triggered by exposure to a traumatic event and can lead to a multitude of symptoms. Those with PTSD can re-experience the event in dreams or hallucinations, face drastic changes in mood, suffer from severe anxiety and severe states of agitation.
Cannabis As Alternative To Opioids
Opioids are prescribed to treat PTSD symptoms because they are supposed to relax the mind and body, yet they often do more harm than good. Opioids are highly addictive and over 180,000 Americans have were killed by prescription opioid overdose between 1999 and 2015. Evidence promoting cannabis as an alternative PTSD treatment is largely anecdotal. This is why the American Legion has been advocating for increased research into medical marijuana.
Last year, the American Legion petitioned the DEA to change the classification of cannabis from Schedule One (no accepted medical value, high potential for abuse) to a lower classification in an effort to promote research. Due to the Schedule One classification, research into cannabis is federally illegal.
Government Grown Cannabis For Research Should Stop
To further push for research, the American Legion also asked the DEA to license privately funded growers so that the cannabis being researched is medicinal quality. The cannabis being used in government research is low in THC and CBD and all grown on one farm at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Sue Sisley who is currently conducted a first of it’s kind government sanctioned PTSD and cannabis study claims the cannabis given out by the government has an average THC level of 8%. In Colorado, the average THC level in medical cannabis is around 19%.
The American Legion is not speaking out of place on this issue. In a phone survey published recently by the Legion themselves, 800 veterans and their caregivers were asked about their perception of cannabis. 82% of respondents said cannabis should be a federally legal treatment option while 92% of respondents support more research into the medicinal values of cannabis.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.