Bullets Not Bongs For U.S. Vets Denied Medical Marijuana

Men and women who dodge (and sometimes take) bullets for their country as members of the U.S. armed forces cannot be prescribed medical marijuana by Veterans Affairs doctors, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

The V.A. states that the no-medical-marijuana policy, which applies to states (like California) where the drug is legal for patients, was made after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warned that it would "criminally prosecute" V.A. doctors who prescribe pot. It could be a major issue for L.A.'s sizable veteran population, which often gets its health-care at the sprawling V.A. complex in West L.A.

The Drug Policy Alliance argues that pot can be especially effective for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and that other, 50-state legal prescription drugs used to treat PTSD patients can actually be deadly.

"It would be inconceivable to withhold weapons, equipment or training from our troops on the ground," U.S. Army veteran Paul Culkin, a PTSD sufferer. "And yet we are denied ccess to a medication that might provide relief to us and our families when we come home."

The alliance wants the DEA to back off its threat so the V.A. can offer vets medical marijuana:

"The Drug Policy Alliance urges the DEA to recognize that our veterans deserve the safest and most effective medicine to treat their conditions," says alliance staff attorney Tamar Todd. "They deserve to receive medical advice from doctors, not the DEA."


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