More Veterans Press VA To Recognize Medical Marijuana As Treatment Option

ILLINOIS:  Every morning, former Air Force senior airman Amy Rising makes breakfast for her second-grader, drives him to school and returns home to prepare what she calls her medicine.

She suffers from severe anxiety after four years working in the frenetic global command center at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, coordinating bombings and other missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rising says she has found a treatment that helps her cope. But her local Veterans Affairs hospital does not provide it — because her medicine is a joint.

At a time when the legalized use of marijuana is gaining greater acceptance across the country, Rising is among a growing number of veterans who are coming out of the “cannabis closet” and pressing the government to recognize pot as a legitimate treatment for the wounds of war. They say it is effective for addressing various physical and psychological conditions related to military service — from chronic back pain and neuropathic issues to panic attacks and insomnia — and often preferable to widely prescribed opioid painkillers and other drugs.


Troops, Civilians Still Face Consequences For Marijuana Use Despite Alaska Legalization

ALASKA:  In this week’s election, Alaska residents voted to pass Ballot Measure 2, which allows civilians in Alaska age 21 and older to use and possess up to one ounce of marijuana and up to six marijuana plants. This measure must be acted upon and passed by the legislature before it will go into effect, so there is no known date of implementation.

However, though Alaska has voted to legalize marijuana, and regardless of the implementation date, the federal government and the military have not legalized the substance in any way. Service members are still subject to the Department of Defense zero-tolerance drug policy, regardless of the state in which they are stationed.

Drug testing programs will continue to screen for all drugs, including marijuana and spice, and the military will still prosecute for the same.

“The bottom line is that service members living in Alaska are still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 112a, which prohibits not just the use of marijuana, but also the possession, distribution and manufacture of the drug,” said Air Force Capt. Dayle Morell, chief of Military Justice at the 673d Air Base Wing Legal Office. “Additionally, marijuana and spice are still prohibited substances in federal law, and not permitted on base or in base housing with service members or their sponsored dependents and guests. Furthermore, troops who have civilian dependents, roommates or friends who are not subject to the UCMJ should remember that ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law’ – shared living spaces and vehicles could subject service members to further discipline. The onus is on the troops to ensure they are not putting themselves in a potentially illegal situation.”