Grow For Vets Colorado Chapter president David Serrano at an event in Denver. Image: Grow For Vets
Bruce Kennedy ~ WeedWorthy ~
 
Some veterans groups are calling on state and federal officials to recognize the benefits of legal marijuana as a treatment for chronic pain and PTSD.
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A recent decision by Colorado’s Board of Health, to not include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to its list of debilitating conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana, has become a rallying cry for military veterans groups.
 
In response to Colorado’s decision regarding PTSD treatment, the organization Grow For Vets recently distributed free cannabis products to hundreds of veterans in Denver.
 
The group was founded in January of 2014, soon after Colorado legalized the recreational, adult use of cannabis.  And it believes cannabis can be a safer and more comprehensive way to treat PTSD in veterans; and to reduce the number of veterans who die daily from suicide and prescription drug overdose.
 
“We believe that our veterans have earned the right to receive the most effective medical treatment available,” says the organization’s web site – which also takes to task how healthcare companies constantly go to pharmaceuticals as the preferred treatment for both chronic pain and emotional or mental issues.
 
“Most of these prescription medications are debilitating and many are extremely dangerous, highly-addictive narcotics,” the site continues. “Far too many veterans feel that current treatment regimes are designed to keep them in a drug induced stupor for the rest of their lives.”
 
David Serrano, president of the Grow For Vets Colorado chapter, knows the drill. A Navy veteran, Serrano dislocated his shoulder while in the service and ended up having four surgeries – which led to a series of prescriptions for increasingly stronger drugs.
 
“And then you start getting medication for symptoms of things that are occurring because of the medications that you are taking,” he tells WeedWorthy.  “The chronic pain just completely took over my life. And when I got out of the military I researched, I connected and I found what could work for me. And (by taking) marijuana for my pain, I’m able to sleep at night.”
 
A big part of the current problem, says Serrano, is the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) system, which states on its web site that “there is no evidence at this time that marijuana is an effective treatment for PTSD.”
 
“In fact,” the VA statement continues, “research suggests that marijuana can be harmful to individuals with PTSD.”
 
Serrano believes there’s a generational resistance among older VA officials to considering marijuana as a treatment for PTSD -- and he recalls how he was screamed out of an examining room by a VA doctor for bringing up the possibility of using marijuana as a medical treatment.
 
“And I get why he blew up,” he adds, “because he doesn’t know. He’s not aware, he’s not educated. It mainly has to do with folks not being tapped-in to that knowledge base. They come from that age of (marijuana) prohibition, and I understand why it may be challenging for them to address these issues.”
 
“But nevertheless they owe it to the folks that they’re serving, who are demanding this resource, demanding marijuana,” he continues. “They owe it to us to investigate it and to create an approach…for our veterans who really need it.”
 
Serrano says veterans with PTSD and other issues need to know they can reach out to groups like Grow Four Vets.
 
“As an organization our main mission to is support our members; veterans and their family members,” he says, “As an organization, our main mission is to bring (cannabis) access to our most vulnerable members. “
 
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