Veterans gathered in Austin at the Texas Capitol Veterans Monument on Veterans Day to help campaign for marijuana legislation in the state. The idea is that marijuana can help veterans dealing with pain following combat without leading to addiction as pain killers often do.
In 2015, Texas passed the Compassionate Use Act, which gives epilepsy patients access to medical cannabis. The law does not cover any other symptoms that afflict veterans such as chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
The veterans are united under their group Operation Trapped to help fight for legalization to help with their myriad issues following combat. This is the second year organizing for the group on Veterans Day in Austin.
This year they gathered 300 empty prescription pill bottles from 300 veterans to show the legislature that it needs to put forward policy that more aligns with the needs of soldiers. They hope to collect a thousand more.
“Texas veterans should not be treated like criminals simply for treating a disability they received for defending this country,” according to the operation’s website. “Texas shouldn’t wait any longer to offer a workable, compassionate program that benefits all in our state.”
Marijuana’s healing provisions were echoed throughout the conference. Amanda Berard, a 29-year-old veteran, talked about developing PTSD from military sexual trauma. According to Berard, she’s been waiting eight months to receive pills for her condition.
However, it wasn’t the pills that helped her cope, it was the marijuana she was able to get. “It lets me leave my house,” she says, according to the Dallas Observer. “With the medication the VA gives me, I don’t have the liberty.”
“In Texas we are proud to support our service men and women. Veterans who have returned home with service related injuries like PTSD and chronic pain should have the freedom to access medical cannabis if their doctors think it will help them,” said Heather Fazio, spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, according to The Daily Ardmoreite. “This is not a partisan issue. This is a matter of compassion and restoring the integrity of the doctor/patient relationship.”
The veterans are also steadfast in sending letters to the government and military members in order to spurn support.
Retired U.S. Army Maj. David Bass said that he was disabled after deployments to Iraq and was subsequently prescribed opioid medications for his chronic pain and psychotropic drugs for his PTSD, according to the Dallas Observer.
“The opioid medication was addictive and the psychotropic drugs had terrible side effects,” Bass wrote in his May 11 letter to Patrick. “I researched medical cannabis and discovered that thousands of veterans testify that cannabis is effective for chronic pain and PTSD. I started using medical grade cannabis and found out for myself that it is effective to relieve my chronic pain and the symptoms of PTSD.
“Unfortunately I am labeled a criminal in our state because I choose to use cannabis. I am not a criminal. I am a retired military officer, a homeowner, a taxpayer and a voter.”