Under the policies active at the time of this writing, any substance listed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a Schedule One controlled substance are subject to this prohibition at the VA level.
The MORE Act has not been signed into law at press time, but the significance of the Act and its’ passage through Congress shouldn’t be underestimated; the MORE act does many things at once including removal of cannabis from The Controlled Substance Act as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substances rosters as a federally-regulated substance.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, like all federal agencies, observes the Food and Drug Administration prohibition on marijuana as it is understood at the time of this writing.
Specific VA Policy Regarding The Discussion Of Medical Marijuana Use With Patients
Currently serving troops including members of the Guard/Reserve are still subject to DoD policy on drug use, not VA policy.
“Schedule 1” means a substance listed on that schedule is thought by the government to have no medical value coupled with a high potential for misuse. The MORE Act has other effects on American law and adds a taxation element; MORE prevents denial of public benefits to those who use cannabis.
But can the VA simply begin recommending pot to VA patients if MORE becomes law?
In states where medical marijuana is approved, some kind of screening process is usually required in order to allow patients to legally buy pot from a state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary. In the State of Illinois, for example, the applicant must be screened for any one of a list of symptoms including certain types of chronic pain, PTSD, and debilitating conditions such as fibromyalgia.
A medical paper from 2015 titled ‘Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders’ studied the possibility of CBD assisting with erratic and unstable moments of PTSD. The study recorded that “in a sub chronic study, CBD administered daily 1 hour after predator stress (a proposed model of PTSD) reduced the long-lasting anxiogenic effects of chronic predator stress, partially via 5-HT1AR activation.” In an additional study of chronic anxiety, systemic CBD “prevented increased anxiety produced by chronic unpredictable stress, in addition to increasing hippocampal AEA.”
CBD for PTSD and Anxiety for Veterans
There are several clinical trials and tons of anecdotal evidence on the effectiveness of CBD for helping with many of the difficulties our veterans are currently facing. From helping to relieve symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain and more, CBD is becoming a popular choice for many veterans.
07 Jun Can CBD Oil Help with Anxiety & PTSD In Veterans?
The study found the use of CBD to be the most effective in helping people deal with traumatic events. What this means is that Veterans, combat soldiers, or other people alike can probably use CBD within an hour of their experience, and significantly decrease the adverse effects of the disorder. This is extremely important because if this is, in fact, the case, CBD oil products can be revolutionary for the military and VA in terms of managing such issues. This is not a ‘solution’ or a “remedy” because CBD won’t make the symptoms go away. However, with regular CBD use, managing the issues of PTSD and post-war anxiety will be more comfortable.
The VA published in 2016 that 66,000 veterans received treatment for opioid addiction. Cannabidiol (CBD) alleviates pain, diminishes inflammation, enhances mood, and is an effective remedy for a variety of other ailments, both physical and mental.
How does CBD Work for PTSD & Anxiety?
There is also a possibility that CBD may be even more beneficial for active members of the military in combat. No evidence explicitly affirms this; however, it is likely that using CBD while on active duty could probably decrease the development of PTSD and severe anxiety before it is too late. In other words, the immediate use of CBD oils or other products when active duty soldiers feel anxious, or PTSD may help reduce their anxiety symptoms and put them in a less depressive or anxious state overall. Using CBD products early enough could prevent severe PTSD or anxiety from entirely developing.
“We talked with veterans who were taking it routinely, and every one of them said that it improved their quality of life. I have a friend who had part of his leg cut off and was in a really bad place. He swears the day he got on CBD, it saved his life,” Donnelly said.
Federal jobs become off-limits for veterans who use CBD, even if they reside in one of the 34 states that have an active, legal medical marijuana program. Currently, the VA maintains that veterans will not be denied benefits because of marijuana use, including their disability payments.
What is CBD?
The organization’s official stance supports the use of CBD and medical cannabis by veterans where it is legal.
The research from JACM is the first of its kind to study the clinical benefits of CBD for patients who have PTSD. Eleven adult patients participated in the study. CBD was given in a flexible dosing regimen to patients diagnosed with PTSD by a licensed mental healthcare worker. The study lasted eight weeks, and PTSD symptom severity was assessed every four weeks by patient-completed PTSD checklist questionnaires, compiled from the current DSM-5.
As the federal government continues to explore how CBD might be helpful, Donnelly and his team at The CBD Path are confident that, eventually, the VA will catch up to what many veterans already know.