Veteran’s Compass – Brother in Arms: Texas Vets Ban Together to Decriminalize Marijuana

Written by: Brad Cole

Picture an empty orange pill bottle missing its label – trapped inside is a toy army man. This simple illustration represents an escalating problem facing our nation’s veterans. According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the number of veterans using opioids is at a staggering value of 68,000. This magnitude translates into 13% of all veterans. That same data suggests opioid abuse is on the rise among veterans, growing 55% from 2010 to 2015.

This is where Operation Trapped comes into play. The advocacy group is pushing for the decriminalization of marijuana, which would allow it to be used as an alternative treatment to opioid-based painkillers and psychotropic drugs.

Operation Trapped: A Fight to Decriminalize Marijuana in Texas

Originally launching on Veterans Day in 2015, Operation Trapped is backed by Texas NORML, the Austin chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. The movement believes that people should not be criminalized over a choice of medicine. Especially in the case of our Texas vets, marijuana has been proven to offer medicinal value. Here, it is wanted to treat conditions such as chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other injuries sustained while serving.

It’s important to understand the double-edged sword these honorable individuals are dealing with. One can consume all the prescriptions drugs, as prescribed, and risk becoming dependent upon opioids and other harmful prescription drugs. Alternatively, they could choose not treat these conditions but would run the risk of their symptoms escalating out of control. Either way, it’s a catch 22.

David Bass, Director of Veteran Outreach for Operation Trapped, describes a third option.

In an online film, he describes how he uses a small dosage of marijuana each evening to replace six pills that he would otherwise have to take. And it’s not just David that’s praising marijuana for its medicinal values; he has many veterans supporting him – some already use this method themselves, despite the risk of facing jail time. Others would like to use this method but fear the possibility of criminal charges.

In hopes of changing policy, David has written a letter, asking Texas Governor for a meeting. His letter has been co-signed by 1,413 Texas vets. Specifically, the group would like to open discussion and advocate the benefits of having a medical marijuana program in Texas for those who have served our nation. Veterans are asked to send in an empty pill bottle to show their support. From there, members of Operation Trapped will place a toy army man inside and add it to the display collection. All the details about submissions can be found online.

From the Compassionate Use Act to Senate Bill 269

Texas is one of 22 states in the U.S. that still criminalizes the possession of marijuana. Though, the state’s first movement towards greater access to medical marijuana became effective on June 1, 2015 through the Compassionate Use Act. In a broadcasted press release earlier this year, Senator José Menéndez describes the act as being exclusive to patients with intractable epilepsy. And, that there was still significant room for progress to help others who suffered from conditions treatable with marijuana.

Now, Senator Bill 269 is in the works of being pushed towards legislation in Texas. Bill 269 aims to increase the access to medical marijuana in the state. In essence, it aims to build on the previous act to include other medical conditions that have much to benefit from marijuana-related treatments. Both Operation Trapped and its veterans are supporting Bill 269 as it will lead to the decriminalization of marijuana in Texas, while providing greater relief to patients across the state.

How you can help!

The bottom line is that medical marijuana has already been scientifically proven to help treat these conditions. At the same time, this treatment avoids some of the atrocious side effects associated with prescription drugs. You can learn more about the movement and how you can show your support by visiting the websites of Texas NORML and TexasMarijuanaPolicy.org.

As always, Everything Medical Marijuana Magazine will continue to update our readers on the progress and news concerning this article. Please check out our upcoming issues for more information.

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