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A Long Road to VA Acceptance for Medical Marijuana

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After returning from war in foreign countries, veterans are waging a war of their against the United States government over a plant. Not just any plant, however: medicinal marijuana.

Combat soldiers and veterans diagnosed and stricken with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are prescribed a cocktail of potent drugs in order to manage their symptoms, including antidepressants suck as Zoloft and Paxil, to a variety of habit-forming opioids. In fact, Veteran Affairs (VA) physicians who treat these soldiers and veterans are urged to prescribe these medications, and any thought of exploring alternative or holistic medicinal practices that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, such as medicinal marijuana use, is strictly verboten.

Because of this, veterans who use medical marijuana to treat their PTSD symptoms are calling for reform. Psychiatrists, such as Sue Sisley who has worked directly with veterans for over two decades, agrees. While Sisley claims to have never smoked or ingested any of the various marijuana strains available, she does however fully recognize and advocate the benefits of medicinal marijuana in the treatment of PTSD. “Nobody is claiming it’s a cure, but they report they have been successfully managing their symptoms,” Sisley said.

Sisley was ready to begin studying medicinal marijuana use in the treatment of PTSD at the University of Arizona when she was fired in July. Sisley feels this was due to political reasons, though this has not been confirmed.

While the idea of marijuana as medicine may seem fairly new in the United States, medicinal marijuana use has been practiced for thousands of years. The ancient Chinese considered the herb to magical well over 5,000 years ago, so much so that it became on the fifty fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. In fact Emperor Shen Nung, who was also a pharmacologist, wrote a book in 2737 B.C. detailing the marijuana and it’s use in treating ailments such as depression, pain, inflammation, and even parasitic infections.

In time, as medicinal marijuana use becomes more accepted and wide spread in mainstream health care, veterans hope to be able to have legal access to it.

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