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Marijuana and PTSD: Give the Joy of Life a Chance

 

With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks.
You've been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books.
You're very well read
It's well known.

But something is happening here
And you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

- Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man

 

Every once in a while a news story pops up that makes you laugh because it opens up a window on an absurdity of modern life. In this case, the absurdity involves two major national issues: Helping war-stressed combat veterans cope with life back home and the 40-year-old War On Drugs.

The New York Times reported recently that a group of researchers want to launch a study on the benefits of marijuana for Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The question looming over the study is will a stubborn federal government mired in the Drug War allow the study to even get off the ground.

The Times reports on an Iraq veteran in Texas suffering from a leg wound and several head injuries who told them “marijuana helped quiet his physical and psychological pain, while not causing weight loss and sleep deprivation brought on by his prescription medications” It seems the "munchies" can be beneficial to someone facing loss of appetite and emaciation.

“ ‘I have seen it with my own eyes,’ he said. ‘It works for a lot of the guys coming home.’ ”

I know a number of Vietnam and Iraq veterans who use marijuana. From my very unscientific survey it seems quite plausible that marijuana could be scientifically shown to bring a sense of calmness and pleasantness into a life burdened with harsh combat memories.

One vet who uses it fairly frequently says it helps him concentrate on creative matters. He says he's not sure how much it actually helps his PTSD. He feels that is a matter of effectively addressing the issues causing the PTSD; in other words, marijuana or anything else is no replacement for the hard work necessary in recognizing why something is troubling an individual. But, still, he feels marijuana is a responsible, positive factor in his life.

Dr. Rick Doblin, left.Dr. Rick Doblin, left.

Another veteran who has used marijuana off and on for decades sees its usage as positive for balancing out life’s frustrations and difficulties. He laughs and says his wife will testify to how nice it makes him. But, he adds, it can be abused. “Too much of the stuff and it will make you stupid,” he said. “What’s important is to 'understand thyself,' then come to an understanding what effects, good and bad, marijuana has for you.”

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