skip to Main Content
It’s Time to Step Up Support of Cannabis Treatment for Veterans

National PTSD Awareness Month provides an opportunity to redouble industry efforts to help veterans gain access to needed treatment

Despite the progress made nationwide on the advancement of cannabis as a treatment for pain, anxiety and depression, thousands of U.S. Veterans are still forced to navigate uncharted waters when wanting to supplement or replace their prescription treatment regimen with cannabis. 

More than two decades after the first state fully legalized medicinal cannabis, we are still failing miserably to provide easier access to cannabis medicine for veterans who seek it out. As a result, veterans are forced to fend for themselves to find information on the benefits and uses of medical cannabis. Very often, they are making these life-altering decisions while managing debilitating pain and anxiety, as well as carefully managing prescriptions of potentially addictive opioids. In addition, uncertainty over the status of their veterans benefits and any potential retribution for cannabis use continues to create concern among the veteran community, despite VA reassurances that there will be no repercussions. For veterans accessing health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs health system, obtaining and using medical cannabis can be a real hassle. Even in states where cannabis is fully legal, VA health care professionals are forbidden from prescribing medical cannabis for veterans. And it has only been within the past several years that VA doctors were even allowed to discuss medical cannabis use when their patients request information. Veterans who desire professional medical advice on cannabis use must seek it outside the VA system, which can be a huge financial burden, particularly for those veterans currently struggling with a disability due to their military service. 

Clearly, we are failing our veterans. Again. Here’s why it matters so much:

  • Veterans experience chronic pain at rates far higher than the general population and are often prescribed opioids to manage the pain. 
  • Research has revealed that VA patients die of accidental overdoses – largely from opioids and cocaine – at nearly twice the rate of the general population.
  • According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. veterans are 1.5 times more vulnerable to death by suicide than the non-veteran adult population.

Among the veterans community, there is widespread support for cannabis reform. According to the Veterans Cannabis Project, 83% of U.S. veterans support medical cannabis treatment and an American Foreign Legion survey found that 92% of veterans support medical marijuana research. Major veterans groups, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have all advocated for cannabis reform for years. In addition, grassroots organizations like the Veterans Cannabis Project, Mattersville and Balanced Veterans work directly with veterans to provide information and assistance to those investigating cannabis treatment options. 

Those of us in the cannabis industry also have an important role to play, and while many offer vocal support on this issue there is so much more we can do. As we close out National PTSD Awareness Month this June, our industry must heed a call to action to step up efforts to help our veterans gain access to the cannabis products and information they need to help them thrive and indeed in some cases, survive.

  • Sound the alarm loudly: If you are in the cannabis industry and you are not actively and vocally advocating for the removal of stigma and obstacles to veteran use of cannabis, why not? As the primary drivers of cannabis culture and acceptance, our voices are the perfect vehicle to deliver the message loud and clear to the cannabis community and the general public of the urgent need to provide more resources to help struggling veterans. Use your marketing materials, your speaking opportunities and your industry influence to shine a spotlight on this important matter and educate consumers and policymakers. 
  • Support organizations actively: Incorporate support for veteran issues into your ongoing corporate social responsibility programs, not just on Veterans Day or Memorial Day, but throughout the year. Identify how these organizations are helping veterans with their concerns surrounding cannabis use, and provide the resources to help them meet their objectives. Provide educational materials for organizations to share with their members on different products and topics related to cannabis treatment. Offer to hold educational seminars or online webinars geared toward educating veterans. Make support for veterans an integral part of your brand.
  • Lobby for better policies aggressively: We must use our voice to influence political leaders, policymakers and other civic leaders to push for more reasonable and compassionate solutions for veterans seeking cannabis treatment. These lobbying efforts must go beyond merely advocating for the removal of cannabis from the federal list of Schedule I controlled substances. We must root out any and all policies that make it more difficult for veterans to obtain the legal medicine and equipment they need to help alleviate their symptoms. For example, legislation enacted as part of last December’s federal stimulus plan is currently scheduled to dramatically impact how veterans can obtain legal vaping equipment for the use of cannabis. Allowing this legislation to take effect will put great pressure on veterans, who along with the general public will no longer be able to have vaping products mailed directly to their homes. This raises concerns about veterans seeking these products through the dangerous black market. It is imperative that we act to let legislators know this is unacceptable as the United States Post Office makes its final determination on the implementation of the new law. 

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), veterans consume cannabis at rates far higher than the general population, and many report using it for medical purposes. With this knowledge in hand, it is unconscionable for us to stand idly by while those who voluntarily sacrificed their health and well being for our greater good struggle to gain safe access to cannabis medicine. We don’t have to wait for federal legalization to provide assistance to veterans who are simply seeking relief from their service-related ailments. The evidence is solid and the need is great. The time for the cannabis industry to help Veterans is now.



Dana ShochedDana Shoched

Dana Shoched

Dana E. Shoched is the president and chief executive officer of O2VAPE, a leading vaping product manufacturer for consumers and wholesalers. Creators of the patented Flip Ultra pen, O2VAPE is committed to providing leading-edge technology for recreational and medicinal cannabis consumers and patients. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Shoched founded O2VAPE out of her garage in 2012 and has guided the company to phenomenal growth, and now serving customers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Prior to creating O2VAPE, Shoched held numerous roles in the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare and sales in the private sector. Shoched is widely recognized as a pioneer for woman-owned businesses in the cannabis industry. She can be reached at [email protected].

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Stories

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana industry concerned about its future under legalization proposal

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana industry, which has dispensed cannabis to thousands of ailing people, could face an existential threat if it is not protected under a proposal to legalize the…

What you need to know about Minnesota’s marijuana legalization bill

After months of debate in more than two dozen committees, the Legislature has passed a sweeping 321-page bill to legalize marijuana in the state. Legislative negotiators ironed out differences between…

Marijuana linked to mental health risks in young adults, growing evidence shows

Over the last decade of diagnosing countless young patients with new psychotic disorders, one striking result has stuck out for New York City psychiatrist Dr. Ryan Sultan. “Of all the…

SEC Shuts Down WeedGenics For $60 Million Alleged Cannabis Ponzi Scheme

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that it has obtained an emergency order to shut down WeedGenics, an alleged Ponzi-like scheme orchestrated by two individuals who managed…

More Categories

Back To Top
×Close search