Veterans from the Air Force, Army and Navy used the day that honors their service to rally in Austin, urging state officials to take a step toward creating a medical marijuana program that will allow treatment with cannabis for "service-related conditions," like PTSD.
Calling the action 'Operation Trapped,' which is backed by the Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy coalition, is the kick-off for a year-long awareness campaign about veterans who want to ditch the prescription pills in favor of medical marijuana.
Advocates say cannabis can be used to treat "post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic pain, and other service-related conditions."
“Veterans have sacrificed greatly to serve and protect our nation,” David Bass, of Killeen, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom II, says in a press release. “It’s time to serve and protect the many soldiers who have returned home with debilitating conditions that would benefit greatly from medical marijuana. The goal of this campaign is to give those veterans a voice and get Texas legislators to listen.”
The activists are asking Texas veterans supportive of medical marijuana to send empty prescription pill bottles to Texas NORML with the line "ATTN: Operation trapped" at 3571 Far West Blvd., #205, Austin, TX, 78731.
Texas NORML will place a toy soldier in each bottle, which represents all the soldiers whose suffering could be eased by medical marijuana. The organization will collect the pill bottles throughout the year and present them next Veterans Day.
Clif Deuvall, of Waco, a U.S. Air Force veteran who played a role in Operation Frequent Wind — the final evacuation of Americans from Saigon at the close of the Vietnam War — says medical marijuana is more effective and safer than most prescription drugs.
“It can ease the symptoms of PTSD and TBI and relieve chronic pain associated with service-related injuries,” Deuvall says in a press release.
While Texas passed a medical marijuana bill in May, which Governor Greg Abbott signed, surprisingly, critics have said the new legislation falls far short as it is "extremely unlikely" to relieve patients who have intractable seizure conditions because — aside from only having minimal amounts of THC — doctors are only allowed to 'prescribe' rather than 'recommend.'
This is important because recommendations are protected under the First Amendment whereas a doctor who prescribed medical marijuana could lose their license or get in trouble with the law. In 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana, doctors 'recommend' or 'certify' patients rather than prescribe.
“The medical marijuana law that passed earlier this year is not going to help veterans and others who are suffering from these conditions,” Kate Morgan, of Lake Dallas, a U.S. Navy veteran, says in a press release. “The legislature needs to take action and ensure veterans have safe and legal access to whatever medical treatment works best for them.”