Back in 2015, the great state of Texas passed The Compassionate Use Act, making the use of cannabis for medical purposes totally cool… in a small number of instances. Only those with epilepsy are allowed to use the plant's properties to ease their symptoms and the cannabis that they're allowed to use must contain minuscule amounts of THC. This left Texans who'd like to turn to cannabis to help ease their way out of opioid use or deal with chronic pain, to saddle up and move to a less restrictive state or risk being arrested. Recently, the state's lawmakers looked to reforming the restrictive act, Once again, too small a group of folks wound up being told that they're cool to roll with a bit of cannabis in their lives. One of the biggest groups excluded: individuals suffering from PTSD.
From The Texas Observer:
Activists say opposition to cannabis reform is partially based on fearmongering over alleged dangers of marijuana by Republicans and law enforcement officials, a powerful group at the Lege. False claims and junk science often go unchallenged in a vacuum created by the lack of research into cannabis. (Marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug is a significant barrier to studying the plant's uses.) For three sessions, the Rural Sheriffs Association of Texas has peddled its report that falsely claims pot lowers IQ scores, is addictive and increases criminality. In March, Plano Police Sergeant Terence Holway told lawmakers in a committee hearing that "all drug addicts … started with marijuana."
Brian Birdwell, a GOP state senator and Desert Storm Army veteran, spoke about his "highly guarded sense of danger" about marijuana for more than 20 minutes during the Senate debate of HB 3703. The Granbury Republican said he "wouldn't feel comfortable going any further" than Klick's amended bill, which did not include PTSD. Birdwell warned cannabis was a "road to perdition" and that it could lead to the "destruction of lives." He complained activists were leveraging veterans "in the name of compassion." And he said a constituent, decorated Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle, was killed by a "multi-year marijuana user who claimed at his murder trial to have PTSD." Birdwell did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.
According to the Observer, Republican Senator Donna Campbell, who sponsored a bill with stringent restraints on cannabis use, cited the fact that a study, which she failed to name, concluded that 70% of veterans who committed suicide were found to have had THC in their systems at the time of their demise. The Suicide Prevention Center says nah-uh: the numbers for military suicide victims with the substance in their systems is actually closer to 9% and that no relationship between their deaths and marijuana as a causality could be found.
A Rand Corporation study conducted in 2018 states that since 2001, 2.77 million personnel were ordered to 5.4 million military deployments, around the world. These numbers take into account all of of the arms of the Unite States military and multiple tours of duty, per soldier, where applicable. Given that one quarter of combat veterans return from overseas with a PTSD diagnosis, That's a massive number of souls that might be able to sooth the demons in their head were cannabis legalized. Given the pride that Texans have in their military personnel and the state's long tradition of service, refusing to decriminalize the use of the plant for PTSD sufferers is far out of line from what the states lawmakers say they believe in and the reality of their actions.
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