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Aug-12-2009 01:45printcomments

Oregon Veteran Activist Wants PTSD Added to Medical Marijuana Program

A meeting in Portland Thursday will address the issue and proponents hope to see a large turnout of Veterans.

US Soldiers Smoke Pot Through an Unloaded Shot Gun during The Vietnam War.
Marijuana use helps the scars of war, reduces suicides and allows PTSD sufferers relief. The proposed OMMP change will also keep veterans out of the penal system.

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - An Oregon man is trying to change the rules for medical marijuana patients, allowing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to be included among the relevant conditions that allow a doctor to authorize the use.

The state of Oregon has a chance to help veterans, reduce legal and court cost, and step forward in line with California, Canada and Israel in accepting that cannabis is a usable treatment and sometimes smart option for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Activist Ed Glick and Attorney Lee Berger, are attempting to demonstrate to Oregon's Department of Human Services how and why allowing PTSD to the list of acceptable conditions will benefit veterans. U.S. jails and prisons are packed with war veterans on minor drug charges, which include marijuana.

The government sends them into horrible combat conditions that scar them for life. Then, these vets seek relief with the age old stand-by, marijuana, and that same government that sent them into harm's way, jails them for using something 100% natural that has never claimed a life in all of history.

It is a hard break for veterans, who possibly would not have served their nation with honor and courage if they knew what waited for them on the other side.

For those who don't know, PTSD is a condition frequently experienced by combat veterans and other survivors of traumatic circumstances. It is complicated, misunderstood, and comes on a scale of one to ten which the government skims over. Veterans either have PTSD or they don't under the current system. In reality it is far more complex.

PTSD can be managed under a wide ranging variety of treatments and therapies, though sufferers carry it for life. It is the after affect of negative experience. PTSD sometimes has a delayed onset.

For the U.S. government, which has created hundreds of thousands of cases of this disorder with repeated combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, PTSD is a money issue.

Welcome to Iraq - Salem-News.com August 2008 image by Tim King

The answer from the Veteran's Administration is to prescribe hard morphine-based addictive drugs to veterans which many say, turns them into vegetables. Other veterans turn to alcohol and some to other illicit drugs. And yet others are told they don't have PTSD by under-qualified VA clinicians who often have only a textbook education about the disorder.

Many PTSD combat veterans commit suicide. PTSD can be a real killer, for the sufferer and sometimes those around them. Over 58,000 Americans were killed during the Vietnam War, yet more than a hundred thousand have committed suicide since the war. Anything that brings this number down will make America a better place.

If anyone needs proof, there are hundreds of thousands of combat vets who use marijuana to maintain their senses while relieving the symptoms of PTSD. It allows a person to gain an appetite, sleep, and achieve a mellow type of intoxication that is almost never associated with violence, unless it is used in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs.

Glick says the process they are using to amend the OMMP is tried and true. Described in ORS 475.334, the same type of panel met in 2000 and implemented a successful change of policy.

"The end result of that deliberation was the inclusion of 'Agitation Related to Alzheimer's Disease' to the list of qualifying conditions of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act," Glick said.

Alzheimer's Rage was the last addition to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, but Glick, Berger and thousands of other Oregonians hope the state now adds PTSD and removes one more barrier in the fight for veterans to regain normalcy in their lives.

Glick says the petition's intent is to revisit psychiatric diseases or mood symptoms and/or diseases in light of nearly a decade of additional research.

"The addition of much new research, in combination with increasing patient experience has greatly expanded understanding of the wide and deep mechanisms and effects of cannabinoid receptor binding. Societal changes have also cleared away some of the stigma associated with cannabis among legislative and medical leaders," he said.

Their team provided a large amount of data that contributes to the understanding of cannabinoid neurochemistry.

Setbacks

Glick says he intentionally submitted a large amount of evidence in order to impress upon the DHS that today, unlike in 2000, sufficient research exists to describe and explain patient experience. Thus, lack of “”credible” research is no longer a justification for disallowing these conditions into the list of qualifying conditions.

PTSD can turn a soldier's live upside down.
Salem-News.com Afghan patrol photo, Nov. 2006 by Tim King

"The main psychiatric mechanism of herbal cannabis (and anandamide) on humans seems to be as a 'homeostatic regulator.' That is, it assists the nervous system suffering from extreme variability to reestablish a less excitable state through the blockade of extreme or disruptive nerve impulses."

He continued, "All of the psychiatric research seems to fulfill this basic premise. The release of endogenous cannabinoids, or the administration of cannabinoids from the plant, have essentially the same function. The major difference is the greater dosage of herbal cannabinoids compared to the 'dosage' of anandamide. In the same way that cannabis blocks painful nerve signals, it works to block psychically painful sign'als."

Glick cites how in the United States every year tens-of-thousands of deaths result directly from incorrectly prescribed or administered pharmaceuticals.

"The relative lack of toxicity of cannabis should be factored in to this panel‟s deliberations. Because of this relative safety, cannabis should actually be a first-line treatment for many of these conditions."

I can tell you from the hundreds and hundreds of emails that we receive from veterans, that marijuana works for them. it may not match the comfort level of every American, but that is beside the point. Most Americans who are squeamish over a plant being smoked surely wouldn't want to spend a minute in a combat zone. If veterans want to use marijuana, it seems like perhaps they should just be allowed to use it, at least under proper medical conditions.

DHS is, as expected, producing data that ties marijuana to depression and other problems and it is the same nonsense that the drug war has been cramming down American's throats for years. The main force against marijuana legalization are the insurance companies who want companies to force the degrading act of urine inspection and testing, and the pharmaceutical companies who all know their addictive and often deadly products are greatly threatened by medical marijuana.

A meeting in Portland Thursday will address the issue, proponents hope to see a large turnout of Veterans.

Those interested in attending the next panel hearing should go to the State Building in Portland, 800 NE Oregon Street, Thursday at 3:00 p.m.

-----------------------------------------------------

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), the first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several other awards including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Daniel August 24, 2009 8:40 pm (Pacific time)

I also want to add I am in agreement that the enemy did do horrific things to american and allied troops .


Daniel August 24, 2009 8:36 pm (Pacific time)

stoney I honor your service and understand your position because you were in special services , it was a tighter group . In all sincerity perhaps you should explore using pot with another vet , my brother who was in combat finds it helps him , it also helps the problems he has from skin lesions from 245t exposure .


Stoney August 24, 2009 2:26 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel I have had symptoms of PTSD since the late 1960's, as do most people I know who served with me. I personally have had some very dark times and spent some time at American Lakes for treatment back in the early 90's. There were several former POW's getting treatment at the same time, their stories and physical injuries welled up some intense emotions. Soon there will be more publicity on so-called torture by the CIA, well this is going to be very unfair for only part of the story will be told. Our enemies could care less about the Geneva Convention. Several close friends began the first veteran self-help program in Marin County, California back in the 1970's. They spearheaded and helped develop the Veterans Outreach Clinics. They are constantly evolving, and some are better than others from my personal observations. As far as some medic who worked on me (there were several) none were using drugs nor smoked pot while in the field. What they did in the rear was their business (we really only got to the rear when we were going on R and R, or Deros), but we had expulsion rules for our particular units. We never kicked anyone out, mainly because we did extensive background checks and made sure everyone was clear on the units expectations. Problems happen when leaders fail to lead. In those days there were no drug screens, but then again we had high quality personnel. As far as someone using pot to deal with PTSD, if they are a civilian then that's their business. I do not use it, and prefer using either a one on one with a fellow combat veteran, or a group scenario with combat veterans. I don't judge what a veteran does, but I do hope they try what I do first, before going another route. I retired rather young as a federal employee, then went into the family business.


Daniel August 24, 2009 1:44 pm (Pacific time)

Stoney perhaps one of the medics that helped save your life smoked pot in their off hours . Back on subject stoney what do you think about medical pot for vets . Do you think this makes them addicts ? Its true many who served should not and would not have been in by choice had there not been a draft . Stoney you state when you were an enlisted man , did you later become an officer ? Two and a half tours as a ranger is impressive in anyones book , many who served did not have your nerves of steel and suffer ptsd . Should these vets be allowed to smoke pot in your opinion ?


Stoney August 23, 2009 6:49 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel my initial MOS was 11F4P when I was an enlisted man (E-6). I served in Vietnam for about 1 1/2 tours, then was medivaced to Japan, then the world. I later returned and spent another tour there. I am service-connected (and retired) and have been helping other veterans for quite some time now. In your below comment you were essentially describing addicts. I encountered very few when I was in for we really did not have the time to indulge in much else other than completing the missions and trying to stay alive. I have many friends who stayed in (lifer's), and none were drummed out for violating the rules about appropriate behavior. No matter what, there will always be people who will break the law, the rules, or whatever. It's called personal responsibility, and if as you say someone is putting a gasoline soaked bag over their head to get high, then they should be removed from active duty and maybe receive a Darwin Award. You are talking about a tiny percentage of people and they existed in all past presidential administrations including the current one.


Daniel August 21, 2009 4:24 pm (Pacific time)

Stoney what I am saying in the 1980s under Reagan a number of combat vets who stayed in the military for there 20 yr pension , were drummed out for pot use . I do not know what army you were in but the one i served in had many drug users and alcohol abusers . I remember people putting paper bags dipped in gas over their head to get high if there was nothing else around . There was plenty of lsd , pot , pills and harder drugs . You know quite well there was always some one in the chain who was looking to make a buck off of what ever . I knew many who served on point who used speed , pot and lsd ! My cousin a medic and nam combat vet was drummed out in the 80s for pot smoking after 14 years in the service . Stoney where did you serve in combat , what was your mos ?


Jacqueline (AoMMC) August 21, 2009 2:41 pm (Pacific time)

Hi All - This is Jacqueline from the AoMMC. I just wanted to apologize for the uneducated comment that we made on the article that was written. As you know, we are brand new, have only been around three months, and definitly should have approached our post much differently. Starting with educating ourselves on the people and newspaper involved. Which was not done. I don't want to take up too much of everyone's time, except to issue an apology to Tim, and to anyone else our comment would have affected.

If it helps at all, this has certainly taught a lesson.

Our apologies,

Jacqueline (Volunteer for AoMMC)

Tim King: Thanks Jacqueline, I appreciate that.  We care a great deal about this and sense that you do too, thanks for taking the time to say that.


Stoney August 21, 2009 7:22 am (Pacific time)

Daniel are you suggesting that stressed out combat veterans, who say just got in from a patrol, that they be allowed to light up a joint and kick back? Have you ever been in a forward "hot" combat zone? Most PTSD sufferers deal with hyper-vigilance, among many other things, and it is that vigilance that allows for many to stay alive. I have yet to meet anyone who has been in combat that would endorse any type of drug that would diminish one's ability to function at an optimal level. What people do when they are back to the "world" is their business as long as it only impacts them and not others. I agree though that the military has rules and they exist for some darn good reasons. Resign if you cannot follow them.


Daniel August 20, 2009 7:13 pm (Pacific time)

Barton my very point , stressed out combat vets who used pot because of ptsd were drummed out of the military because of attitudes like yours . Thanks for confirming my point !


Barton August 20, 2009 12:59 pm (Pacific time)

I don't see a problem with drug testing when you are in the military or in any position that can negatively impact society if one is under the influence. When I was in the military, we used peer pressure to modify behavior of those who were under the influence of any drug. Our lives depended on everyone being fully engaged. The military is not a democracy, you have established behavioral standards, they are essential to follow, especially in a combat environment. I was in before they started testing for drugs, but it is obviously a methodology to get people to follow the rules. If you can't, then get out.


Daniel August 18, 2009 10:35 pm (Pacific time)

The 1981 ex order was number 12383 , look it up and read . Did you live thru these times , I did . I am a vet but did not serve in a combat zone during Viet Nam , many who I trained with and many close friends and relatives did . Reagan made use of pot a court marshall offense , sales court marshall and years of hard labor and TESTED EVERYONE . If you can not connect the dots I am sorry .


Daniel August 18, 2009 10:16 pm (Pacific time)

Ano in 1981 Reagan extended Nixon's executive order to do random drug testing to mandatory testing of ALL military personal ! In 1986 he extended the policy to civilian workers with Executive order 12564 . Any body smoking for self medication or just pleasure was caught ! The vets who were drummed out know quite well of the policy . Do some of your own research , any one interested in the matter can find plenty of info on the net .


Anonymous August 15, 2009 11:57 am (Pacific time)

Daniel I would be interested where you got your data about dishonorable discharges for mj use? This is an important thing to prove for Vietnam veterans are often the victims of pretty absurd info. If you were a combat vet you would understand that and not make such a statement without linking to a primary source with the stats.


London August 14, 2009 9:18 pm (Pacific time)

Good article, thank you!


Charlie August 14, 2009 1:38 pm (Pacific time)

Treat the cause is much better than treating the symptom if you really want to help as we say in the clinical profession. Also the Vietnam veteran suicide rate which was high innitially for returning vets actually dropped below the rate for the same age civilian group.


Daniel August 14, 2009 1:14 pm (Pacific time)

What was also a crime was the dishonorable discharge of combat veterans for marijuana use . This occurred largely under Pres Raygun to a lot of military lifers , viet nam vets who were short timers to a pension , just say no ! The money went instead into the pockets of Californian military contractors !


Daniel August 12, 2009 9:59 pm (Pacific time)

Who the heck is the aommc , i did a little check on the web and they look like a money making venture using pot as their hook . Their whole site reeks of make a buck off of the medical people by listing a few legitimate links to associate their name with theirs . Who are these people NO ONE is listed , just vague references and high sounding words , and the come on the join their site so they can help you . Its free just give us all your personal info so we can contact you hmmm ? They formed in 2009 and are in Michigan ? A slick looking layout with a photo of unnamed doctors and health professionals , or are they actors dressed up to look the part from a stock photo ? Personally to me they looked bogus .


Daniel August 12, 2009 10:56 pm (Pacific time)

Tim I also have to add , I love the high tone mr Johnny come lately ,aommc , uses in his rebuke too you , and then addresses themselves as an organization instead of who they are . Wow aommc you guys have been around three months , impressive , it certainly qualifies you as an expert and long time soldier in this fight , maybe in another three months you can have the guts to list who the names are behind the front . Please list one doctor or caregiver who is a director in your organization . Showing me a photo of a group a nameless actors posing as health care professionals , on your site does not cut it . The Salem news has been promoting this subject actively for years with NAMED DOCTORS ! Oregon is at the forefront in the nation because of people like Tim and Bonnie King and Dr Leveque . You are just a nameless clueless critic who has come 30 years late for the party and thinks they just started it . On to the subject , YES it should be at the front of the list for qualifying conditions . It is a crime it is not !


scottportraits August 12, 2009 8:35 pm (Pacific time)

Sounds like what we should have done 8 years ago. The Iraq-War veteran suicide rate is an unconscionable number. Cannabis works best for PTSD; there is no other medicine quite as efficacious.


Tim King August 12, 2009 7:10 pm (Pacific time)

I don't think it is possible to accurately track that number, the 100k figure was from a legitimate Vietnam Veteran at the Traveling Wall in Albany, Oregon. I would have to look at the tape to find his name but I have it. As far as a source, a figure of "over 58k" can be attributed to Nancy Steinbeck, co-author of "The Other Side of Eden: Life With John Steinbeck."


OMMP Patient August 12, 2009 5:11 pm (Pacific time)

Each of us has one small voice, but together we are a giant roar. Support Vets! http://www.veteransformedicalmarijuana.org/


Association of Medical Marijuana Car August 12, 2009 4:35 pm (Pacific time)

One of the reasons medical marijuana is not yet legalized in all states is due to inappropriate content in the media relating to medical marijuana, and today's article from the Salem News is no exception. Mr. Glick has put an enormous amount of time and effort into having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder added to the list of relevant conditions for medical marijuana use. This information should be shared with Oregon residents with respect and consideration for Mr. Glick's attempt to ease his pain and that of his fellow veterans. Unfortunately, the reporter has chosen to place a picture of soldiers in Vietnam smoking pot from a shotgun right in line with the article. What was your newspaper hoping to achieve with this image? It completely negates any good that the article would have done, and instead places an image that is completely irrelevant and potentially damaging in the minds of readers. We are asking for the Salem News to immediatly remove the picture, and to print an apology to Mr. Glick, and all of the veterans who his initiative may help.

It is only by working together with awareness and consideration for one another that we can truly achieve respect and consideration for all people.

Regards,

Association of Medical Marijuana Caregivers
www.aommc.org

Tim King: Wow, that is really harsh.  First, if I owe any apologies then I offer them without hesitation, but I in no way meant to lower the bar by showing that we are talking about something that has been around for a long time.  I am a veteran deeply involved in this and the evidence would be hundreds of articles on the subject in the last three years.  Are you not aware of that?  I am not just "the reporter" even if you choose not to identify yourself.  That is half the problem with the whole movement is everyone pussyfooting around and always worried about putting on the right image rather than just making the system accept the facts of the case.  Next time you write to criticize one of us you might as well name the person you are talking about.  We have been working overtime in this area and carrying stories about medical marijuana from some of the top writers on the subject in the world.  So, I can take the photo down but your insinuations and interpretations are off track in my opinion.  And by the way, Ed Glick is a super good person but he is not a military veteran, instead he is a peace activist working to help vets.  You really don't have your set of facts straight.    


Marty August 12, 2009 6:12 am (Pacific time)

I was wondering do you have a source regarding the approximately 100,000 Vietnam veterans who committed suicide. Do you know how that compares to the similar population who did not go there? Thanks

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