Weed for Warriors: Caring for America’s Veterans

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Photo by: Miro Vrlik Photography/Shutterstock

The Weed for Warriors Project LogoOrganizations like Weed for Warriors are highlighting the issues plaguing American veterans, including serious unresolved psychological issues. Rather than pumping them full of drugs, marijuana advocates point to a health alternative to potentially dangerous physician-prescribed remedies. It just boggles my mind that those who risked their lives trying to protect this country come home, are neglected, and get turned into drugged-up zombies. The failure at the VA is an example of how government has failed to reintegrate American veterans into a normal way of life, and if this remains the case, veterans will likely have to take matters into their own hands. We here at Leafbuyer want to reveal the issues veterans are facing on a daily basis and commend the actions of those who formed Weed For Warriors.

Misunderstanding Trauma

Those coming home from battle are presented with a myriad of pressing issues. War is violent and destructive, and it taxes the human mind. For years, military men and women complaining of PTSD were labeled as week, mostly due to a perception created by General Patton in WW2. In one appalling display of apathy, General Patton walked into a medic tent and slapped a crying soldier who was suffering from what would now be called PTSD. This attitude lasted for decades and outlets for military members were largely restricted. With the boom of major pharmaceutical companies in the ’90s came an insidious approach: pumping America’s veterans full of antidepressants, antipsychotics, and pain killers. And we wonder why there’s an opioid epidemic.

An Unglorified Return

America’s opioid epidemic is ripping apart families and destroying communities. Opioids are becoming an damaging alternative to healthier options, such as marijuana and natural medicine. Many of these returning troops come home to impoverished communities as countless veterans were recruited from the inner cities and rural areas. It’s not as if veterans return to the United States with citizens greeting them with parades and financial assistance. The reality of America’s veteran problem is deeper than one thinks. Looking to the past can remind Americans of the sheer cost of war, such as what occurred in the disastrous War in Vietnam. Those returning from Vietnam, in a sense, were similar to Iraq War Veterans, because they were blatantly disregarded by the American public. This sad reality is often the case when America loses a war or draws. Everyone loves the “rah-rah” moment associated with victory, but losing ends up hurting some of the most heroic and vulnerable segments of society.

Populist Appeals

Weed For Warriors is aware of this tragic reality, and that’s why the movement is growing so fast. But there is some hope as various mainstream politicians are listening to the needs of veterans. During the last campaign cycle, top candidates like Trump and Sanders highlighted the issues relating to the treatment of veterans upon return. For years, Bernie Sanders has fought to add amendments to major pieces of legislation with the intention of improving the lives of America’s selfless warriors. Trump’s rhetoric also resonated with military members because there seemed to be a lack of bravado permeating the Armed Forces, especially as a consequence of lacking victories. Based on the success of populist candidates, it’s my belief that veterans issues will become major party platforms, and justifiably so.

Veterans Affairs’ Failure

Even more disturbing is the federal pushback against medical marijuana for America’s veterans. Just last week, the VA reviewed the merits of marijuana consumption for numerous types of ailments impacting the lives of veterans and, disappointingly, chose to cherry-pick a weekly controlled study. Basically, the overarching argument propagated by the VA was that there are some benefits in states where marijuana is legalized, but there hasn’t been enough time for conclusive evidence to surface. Enough time? The health benefits of marijuana have been part of medical wisdom for decades, and for the VA to snub compelling findings comes off as purely political.

Pro Freedom?

The truth is: with a change in government comes a change in philosophy. Trump’s election has surprised many libertarians and veterans as his “pro-freedom” agenda hasn’t extended to the administration’s view on marijuana. All last year, Trump highlighted the failure of the VA and our involvement in unnecessary wars, but he’s failed to talk to veterans face to face about daily mental struggles. This is why organizations like Weed for Warriors are gaining enormous traction. If you want change, it needs to come from the bottom up.

The Pharmaceutical Fallacy

Empty Pill Bottles Pharmaceuticals
Photo by: Miro Vrlik Photography/Shutterstock
Not too long ago, Weed for Warriors made a powerful effort to raise awareness as it relates to veteran suicide, mental issues, and battle injuries. After watching a well-made video by Weed for Warriors which sought to bring reasonable understanding to veterans’ issues, I became even more upset that these men and women are beholden to the pharmaceutical lobby. In the video, the veterans describe both their psychological and physical issues and then divulge how many different drugs military doctors and psychiatrists have forced on them. Many of them are on 10-15 different medications and the side effects are saddening. What’s more, the doses are often increased on a monthly basis to a point that is literally unsafe for consumption. Zoloft, Paxil, Percocet, and other mind-altering drugs are prescribed like candy. And, even more worrisome, is how these medications interact with alcohol and other illicit drugs, which some veterans seek as alternatives. Marijuana, on the other hand, has the capacity be a legitimate substitute for these drugs.

Weed for Warriors also went on tour to discuss the benefits of medical marijuana for veterans across the US, with the final destination being Washington, D.C. Once arriving in Washington, the group collected all the empty bottles of prescription drugs they have taken over the years and dumped it in front of the White House lawn. The symbolism was profound and caught the attention of some lawmakers.

Weed for Warriors’ Mission

The organization’s core mission is uplifting and goes as follows: “With the help of organizations like SANTA CRUZ VETERANS ALLIANCE, Weed for Warriors Project is able to provide Veterans with medical marijuana information, a safe place to fellowship with other Veterans and safe access to free medicine with proof of service/current medical recommendation.”

In my opinion, veterans should be afforded with rights that may even surpass those of a normal citizen. If the government “cares so much about the troops,” then why not grant them an exemption to federal marijuana law? That’s called sound and reasonable policy. Continuing to persecute veterans residing in states where marijuana is illegal is immoral and simply enforces the notion of D.C. politicians being at the beck and call of Big Pharma. Let’s be real, marijuana’s schedule-one status is due in large part to the lobbying power of Big Pharma, which presumably views marijuana as a threat to their stranglehold on the market. In time, Big Pharma will want in on medical marijuana, and this monetarily driven change of heart won’t have anything to do with genuine care, but rather with potential profit and market stake.

In the meantime, we have to do much, much better for the men and women who have served our country so selflessly and returned with needs of their own. Visit www.wfwproject.org today and see how you can help make a difference.

 

Article by: Jason Newell