The Organization's Take on Medical Marijuana
A growing number of medical studies have shown that marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), as well as pain. Yet despite this fact, some people maintain the belief that marijuana is a dangerous drug. Several recent polls indicate that more than 80% of all Americans support the use of medical marijuana. Other polls indicate that more than half of Americans now support full legalization and nearly the same number support banning tobacco products.
Despite personal positions related to the use of marijuana for medical purposes, there is nearly universal agreement that veterans deserve to have any and all treatment options available to them. Medical marijuana has allowed thousands of veterans to either reduce, or completely discontinue, the use of dangerous prescription medications. Many medications have a number of undesirable side-effects.
At a loss for how to deal with significant numbers of veterans turning to heroin to numb their mental anguish of combat during the Vietnam War, the Nixon administration decided to create a smoke screen to hide their inability by mounting a war on marijuana. Due to this action, marijuana became a schedule 1 drug. Incredibly, heroin, LSD and ecstasy are in the same schedule of drugs.
To receive schedule 1 classification, the drug or other substance must present a high potential for abuse. In addition, the drug or substance can have no accepted medical use. The fact is that the addiction rate for marijuana is the same as it is for caffeine at 9%. Meanwhile, the addiction rates for other substances include:
Grow4Vets believes that marijuana does not deserve to be categorized in the same manner as heroin or cocaine. Marijuana has been proven to have medical benefits for pain as well as for a number of diseases which include:
Along with several others. A recent study at Louisiana State University showed that THC actually slowed the spread of the HIV virus in lab animals. Almost half of the states have approved the use of medical marijuana and more states are expected to follow. Where danger is concerned, no marijuana-related deaths have been reported - while tobacco and alcohol are responsible for the deaths of 500,000 people each year. It is estimated that the average person would have to ingest 1,500 pounds of marijuana within 15 minutes in order to reach a fatal level of consumption.
Even though the current trend is moving in a positive direction, many doctors remain reluctant to prescribe medical marijuana. Recent directives issued by the Veterans Administration (VA) have provided doctors with minimal latitude in allowing veterans as patients to use medical marijuana along with treatment provided by the VA. Yet VA doctors are still not allowed to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans. The prohibition is directly tied to the unwillingness of the U.S. Government to accept reality. Grow4Vets feels the attitude on the part of the VA and U.S. Government reflects a callous disregard for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the veterans who have made incredible sacrifices to protect the freedoms we love.
Helping Veterans Is What Grow4Vets Does
Grow4Vets takes great pride in serving veterans who have served America. When veterans sign up to serve America, we promised to care for them and their family members in the event they were wounded or injured. Operation Grow4Vets believes that it is important to honor this promise. Operation Grow4Vets serves veterans who sustained a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound during their military service. The organization also provides assistance to family members of veterans. It is unfortunate that many of the men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our way of life suffer so much physical and emotional pain; they number in the hundreds of thousands.
Over the years battlefield medicine has advanced at an incredible pace. Advances in body armor, as well as in vehicle armament, have resulted in an unprecedented number of service members surviving severe wounds or injuries. For each American soldier killed in WWI and WWII, there were 1.7 soldiers wounded. In Vietnam there were 2.6 soldiers wounded for each one killed. Current statistics for Iraq and Afghanistan show that for every American soldier killed, 7 are wounded.
In addition to the more than 49,000 servicemen and women who have been physically injured in recent military conflicts, it is estimated that more than 400,000 service members are currently struggling with invisible wounds of war to include:
An additional 325,000 are estimated to have experienced a traumatic brain injury while serving in combat. While the VA has made great strides in its overall care of veterans in the last few years, there are still major hurdles for the VA to clear, particularly in regards to the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, chronic pain and TBI. In addition, the VA has a backlog of disability claims that number into the hundreds of thousands.
More than 9.2 million Americans served in Vietnam between 1964 and 1975. A large number of these veterans are receiving care for injuries, wounds or illness. Statistics indicate an incredible 31% of Vietnam veterans are living with PTSD. Around 10,000 more veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan pour into VA medical facilities every month. Countless veterans suffer from debilitating chronic pain. Approximately 20% of these veterans suffer experience PTSD. Some 40% of post-9/11 veterans diagnosed with PTSD are still not receiving the benefits they are entitled to. Overall, suicides now outnumber combat fatalities by a ratio of greater than 25-to-1.
When a veteran is dealing with pain or a debilitating injury, their family members also share in the burden. Grow4Vets believes that veterans have earned the right to receive the most effective medical treatment available, treatment that allows them to function as loving fathers and mothers. The organization believes veterans deserve treatment that affords them quality educational and career opportunities, as well as providing them with a shot at being productive members of society.
The team of staff and volunteers at Operation Grow4Vets are dedicated to doing everything they can for veterans who have sacrificed so much for us. Without the sacrifice of veterans, we would not enjoy the peace and prosperity at home that we many times take for granted.
Veterans and Dangerous Medications
Too often the case in civilian medical care is to reach for the easiest answer for treating pain and emotional and mental conditions through pharmaceuticals. The majority of these prescription medications are debilitating and a number of them are very dangerous, highly-addictive narcotics. Too many veterans feel that current treatment regimens are designed to keep them in a drug induced stupor for the remainder of their lives.
In a report that aired on Fox News in June of 2013, reporter Douglas Kennedy interviewed a 30 year old veteran who the VA sent to 13 different psychiatrists. They prescribed 25 different medications which caused numerous additional health issues for the veteran. His own doctor later called the combination of these medications a, 'cocktail of poison.' The veteran is now resigned to the fact that he will be addicted to a number of these medications for the rest of his life. In another report, Kennedy interviewed the sister of a veteran who died from a drug overdose after VA doctors prescribed:
Noting that her sister's mental state was quickly deteriorating, she begged the Chief of Staff at the VA medical facility where her sister was being treated to order doctors to stop writing these prescriptions. Her pleas were ignored and as a result - her sister is now dead.
An article written by American-Statesman staff writer Jeremy Schwartz in the year 2012 noted that in 2011 the Pentagon spent more on pills, injections and vaccines than it did on Abrams tanks, Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot missiles and C-130 cargo planes combined. Schwartz also noted that, "...the military drug purchases also paint a picture of a fighting force increasingly reliant on antidepressants, psychotropic drugs and powerful narcotic painkillers that critics call dangerous and that have been involved in a growing number of prescription drug overdoses. The military spent at least $2.7 billion on antidepressants and more than $1.6 billion on opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and hydrocodone over the past decade. More than $507 million was spent on the sleeping pill Ambien and its generic equivalents."
The article by Mr. Schwartz also places the spotlight on the often unscrupulous marketing efforts employed by pharmaceutical corporations seeking to convince military doctors to prescribe their medications. Schwartz noted that according to the Center for Public Integrity, the pharmaceutical industry spent around %1.7 million for more than 1.400 trips for Defense Department doctors and pharmacists to places such as Las Vegas, New Orleans and even Paris between 1998 and 2007.
Operation Grow4Vets believes the Department of Defense and the VA need to make a commitment to providing injured and wounded service members and veterans with non-life threatening forms of treatment. The use of medical marijuana is a rational alternative. The organization believes prescribing dangerous, debilitating and often deadly pharmaceuticals should be a very last resort.
Grow4Vet's Project Better Medicine
'Project Better Medicine,' through Grow4Vets is designed to reduce veteran drug overdose and suicide by providing:
To military veterans. When a veteran is dealing with the pain of a debilitating injury, Grow4Vets is aware that family members share the veteran's burden. The organization believes that veterans have earned the right to receive the most effective medical treatment available; treatment that allows them to function as loving fathers and mothers and affords them quality educational and career opportunities. Funding and support for Project Better Medicine is being provided by individuals as well as corporate sponsors.
Every veteran residing in Colorado and under treatment at a VA facility is eligible to enroll in Project Better Medicine. Enrollment can be completed online. Operation Grow4Vets will soon begin sponsoring events at which veterans who experience TBI, PTSD, chronic pain and other medical issues will be given free marijuana, marijuana related products and equipment that can be used to grow their own marijuana. Enrollment forms will also be available at Product Better Medicine events.
The Operation Grow4Vets Team