Vets Using Marijuana Medicinally Head To States Where It’s Legal

AP photo by Gosia Wozniacka

For some veterans and their families, a Nov. 11 provision allowing Veteran Affairs doctors to recommend marijuana in states where it’s legal, means that they’re packing up and heading to greener pastures.

The legislation, which has yet to pass through the House, does not change existing laws that prevent the possession or distribution of medical marijuana on VA property, nor does it do anything for veterans in states where it’s not legal.

The spouse of a retired Army Green Beret, whose career spanned 26 years and included more than 50 combat missions, told that she and her husband will become “marijuana refugees.”

Her husband’s VA-prescribed medications caused him to suffer from severe side effects and one of his doctor’s recommended he cut all but the most essential prescriptions, and use marijuana in lieu of the others. The switch helped, however, the couple lives in North Carolina, where weed is illegal. After testing positive for marijuana, her husband’s doctors refused to refill his prescriptions for Oxycodone and Fentanyl, both of which are highly addictive.

After lobbying North Carolina’s legislators for several years to change their laws on medical marijuana, the couple has decided to move in the coming year.

“No one seemed to care,” she said. “As an advocate and a caregiver for my husband, it is my job to work towards legalization for medical cannabis. However, we will now be moving."

Before, to help him deal with injuries ranging from crippling arthritis to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, her husband was prescribed Ambien so he could sleep; Propranolol for his tremors; Botox injections; Tramadol and Treximet for chronic migraines; and testosterone injections for his damaged endocrine system. Additionally, a civilian medical practice prescribed a daily dose of Oxycodone and Fentanyl to help him cope with the pain stemming from his many injuries.

"The injuries he sustained are not visible to most people. It isn't until someone watches him for a while do they recognize there is a problem," she told "I get tired, I get angry and I get fed up. I no longer participate in any of the activities that I once did. I have completely lost who I am. Because my husband doesn't have visible deformities, outsiders rarely understand."

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