Michigan citizens demonstrated overwhelming support for medical cannabis in the November election in 2008. Since then, three VA Medical Center directors, with the determination by the VA Regional General Counsel, have made the use of medical cannabis an acceptable adjunct therapy.
These are three VA Directors that we all need to thank... out of the approximately 150 VA medical center directors in the U.S., only Michigan VA has done this. Michigan's veteran patients are very grateful to our VA Directors for their compassionate, rational decision to allow the responsible use of medical cannabis.
Over the past 10 years I have been discussing the medical value of cannabis with many VA doctors in several states, and most of them say they support it, and they wish they could prescribe it to some of their own veteran patients. Unfortunately, the DEA recently advised the Veterans Administration that a physician who acts with the specific intent to provide the means by which his/her patient may obtain marijuana does so in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and is subject to its enforcement provisions.
As a service connected disabled veteran, I have used cannabis medically, on and off, for various conditions I live with, such as some of the symptoms of chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD.
Over the past several years, while I was the executive director of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access (VMMA), hundreds of veteran patients have thanked me for my work helping them get the VA directors in Michigan to change the rules for us. This has brought a tremendous positive effect on the quality of our lives here in Michigan.
According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 5,000 veterans here in Kalamazoo County alone, and approximately 900,000 veterans in the state of Michigan. All of these veterans deserve the right to use medical cannabis as patients in Michigan’s VA medical centers, just as thousands of non-veterans are allowed to use it in our state. Why would any level of government want to deny veterans the same opportunities as everyone else? Yes, it is controversial at this time, and opposed by some, but I say "so what?" If it helps some of us, and it does, allow us to have it. The science community continues to do research around the world showing the positive effects cannabis can have as a medicine.
Now, if the politicians and doctors would only catch up with the science, we could resolve many questions more easily, and get on with the research in the United States. I simply cannot understand, this day, and at this time, what it is about the irrational fear that overtakes their sometimes rational minds. I am very grateful for those who have had the courage to open their minds, and change their opposition to support. At this point in time we veterans would like to express our thanks to our U.S. congressman, Fred Upton, for finally seeing the medical value of cannabis and stating in two letters to me that he will now support it in the U.S. Congress.
The very serious problem for veteran patients who qualify for the MI State Medical Marijuana Program, is that they are caught in a "Catch-22" trap. The VA doctors are prevented from signing the MI State forms for their veteran patients by the DEA. At the same time, here in Kalamazoo and Portage, there is not ONE doctor who will sign veterans MI State forms, even though they are totally protected by the law. The doctors apparently are not at all patriotic, and have no interest in helping us veterans.
They seriously need to think about their irrational fear, or ignorance of the law. It also appears they need a lesson on compassion, beyond their self interests. Why did they become doctors? And did they all forget “do no harm”? You are harming veterans, by not helping them.
December 25, 2009
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Michigan Leading the Way for Veterans and Medical Cannabis