Veterans Protest for Legalization of Medical Marijuana


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This Veterans Day, dozens of servicemen marched from McPherson Square, to the Department of Veterans Affairs, onward to the White House. This was not a parade or celebration. Rather, it was a protest, as veterans and marijuana advocacy associates dumped hundreds of empty pill bottles on the President’s front lawn.

The veterans argue that Veterans Affairs hospitals are over-medicating them by prescribing them a large amounts of psychoactive medications to treat PTSD and neglecting their demands to consider medical marijuana as a realistic recovery option.

“I was getting really addicted to Hydrocodone,” veteran David Bass told ThinkProgress in a recent article. He was dealing with side effects such as sexual impotence and thoughts of suicide and was, “feeling really drugged out like a zombie.” Despite these complaints, his doctor at the VA hospital assured him that he needed to stay on the drugs for at least another two years.

Medical marijuana needs to be seriously considered as an alternate for these veterans. However, because it is classified as an illegal substance, their doctors cannot even approach the subject. They are strictly limited to an arsenal of FDA-approved pharmaceuticals.

Marijuana is classified in the Schedule 1 category of drugs that are purported to have no medical value and a high potential for abuse, categorizing marijuana on the same level as cocaine and heroine. Why is it then that prescription painkillers are so widely available, when they cause so many harmful side effects and debilitating addictions? The protestors this Veterans Day showed their anger over these medications by trashing them in front of the White House. They are over-medicated and upset, restricted from treatments that would suit them better.

At McPherson Park, protesters camped overnight and planted 22 small American flags, in regards to the statistic that 22 veterans commit suicide each day. Empty prescription bottles and glow sticks, symbolizing syringes, morosely decorated the base of the flags.

The Veterans Equal Access Amendment is a proposed bill that would allow doctors to provide recommendations about participating in legal medical marijuana programs. Veterans represent the best values of the United States. They are proud, patriotic, law-abiding citizens who have put their lives on the line for our country.  Don’t they deserve a chance to be treated equally in their medical treatment?

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About williampanzer

William Panzer is a lawyer practicing in the Oakland, CA area supporting medical marijuana initiatives.
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