President Trump is under fire from veterans' groups who are accusing his administration of putting personal politics ahead of their health.
“They’re playing politics with the lives of patients,” Nick Etten said yesterday in response to Attorney General Sessions' decision to rescind a rescind the Department of Justice directive preventing federal prosecutors from cracking down on states that have repealed marijuana prohibition.
“We have limited access to cannabis as medicine already," he added. "And by the Department of Justice saying they’re going to be effective at enforcement, they’re interfering with veterans’ access to medicine.”
Etten, a former Navy SEAL, now fights for medical marijuana on Capital Hill as Executive Director of the Veterans Cannabis Project. And he's not the only veteran-turned-cannabis-activist taking on Trump. He's joined by Sean Kiernan, an army vet who uses medical marijuana to treat PTSD. Kiernan says Sessions and the rest of the administration are picking the wrong fight with the wrong people.
“If they crack down on medical or recreational programs, it’s going to hurt access. And then you’re going to see an ornery group of veterans,” warned Kiernan, who works with the Weed for Warriors Project — a group dedicated to helping veterans get access to medical marijuana. He also called on fellow vets to "get ready to fight" for their medicine.
Medical Marijuana Saves Veterans' Lives
Many retired members of the armed forces use medical marijuana as an alternative to opioid painkillers that are commonly prescribed to treat chronic pain and other conditions stemming from their service. Veterans are twice as likely to die from accidental overdose than civilians, according to Veterans Affairs, so offering an alternative to those addictive and potentially lethal pills is essential to providing veterans with adequate healthcare.
Unfortunately, many vets will have no choice but to turn back to opioids if the Trump administration unleashes the DEA on states that have legalized medical marijuana.
But Etten thinks the threat of a crackdown might force federal lawmakers to finally reform America's outdated drug laws, which still define marijuana as a substance that has no medical value and is as dangerous as heroin.
“It’s on Congress not to kick the can down the road anymore and pass cannabis reform at the federal level,” Etten said. “I always try to see the silver lining, and I hope this puts pressure on Congress to act.”
Hopefully that silver lining doesn't turn out to be a swarm of DEA helicopters flying in to seize medicine from veterans.