Commentary

Fayetteville Observer rightfully blasts Trump administration’s marijuana policies

Add the Fayetteville Observer to the long and growing list of responsible voices that have taken the Trump administration to task for its absurd and prehistoric policies toward marijuana. In an editorial yesterday, the Observer heaped a special measure of scorn on the administration for its ridiculous failure to allow the Veterans Administration to even study the possible benefits of medical marijuana at a time during which legal opioids are, literally, killing thousands of Americans — including lots and lots of vets.

In “VA gets it wrong on medical marijuana,” the Observer responds this way to the recent and incorrect assertion of VA Secretary David Shulkin that his agency can’t even study marijuana’s possible benefits:

“That’s nonsense. As the Brookings Institution’s John Hudak told The Washington Post, ‘… there are no restrictions on doing scientific research on it. Universities do this all the time….’

What there is, apparently across federal bureaucracies, is a resurgence in old thinking about drugs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to rekindle the government’s old and failed attempts to curtail drug use through interdiction and prohibition, a costly strategy that not only hasn’t worked, but has led to what may be the most widespread drug use in American history.

A substantial part of the country’s opioid crisis is rooted in widespread VA prescription of opioid painkillers for veterans. While Shulkin says the VA has cut back opioid prescriptions by 33 percent since 2013, its alternatives of yoga, meditation, acupuncture and hypnosis aren’t always effective for PTSD patients and are even less useful for chronic pain.

Although there has been little research into the use of medical marijuana for those conditions, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence from the thousands of veterans who have turned to it when other treatments failed to help them.

Incredibly, marijuana is still classified by the government as a Schedule 1 drug — the same classification that includes heroin. Any college kid could tell the feds why that’s ridiculous.

At least 29 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and eight have gone a step further and approved it for recreational use as well. On the campaign trail, President Trump said he supported providing medical marijuana for people with serious illnesses. Yet his attorney general appears to be living in a time warp, 40 years behind the rest of government, and he may have the VA secretary there with him. Sessions wants to launch a new offensive against marijuana and earlier this month he acted to make it easier for federal prosecutors to go after marijuana dealers in the states that have legalized it. In doing so, he’s running head-on into the widespread belief that cannabis should be legalized. An American Legion survey of veterans found that 92 percent support research into whether medical marijuana will help treat physical and mental conditions and 82 percent said they want to have medical marijuana made legal.

On that score, the veterans are right. It’s time for our federal leaders, and especially the VA, to join the rest of us in the 21st century.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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