Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Soldiering On (Memorial Day Update)

He fought the war in Iraq, only to be persecuted by the Drug War at Home. Prohibition is making life hell for soldiers like Christopher Northcutt, brave heroes who proudly served their country and defend freedom for all of us. Our men and women who serve in the military deserve to use cannabis for medicine, but morally bent ideology and draconian drug laws are locking them up for using a plant that has never killed anyone.

Prescription medication deaths have become more exposed with the passing of Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson and DJ AM.  It's time everyone put their judgment aside and face the facts - cannabis is a safer alternative to prescription drugs for many, and if their doctors approve then they have the right, as it says in the Declaration of Independence, to "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I wonder, would those celebrities still be alive if their doctors had been able to treat them with cannabis? It's an answer we'll never know, but still an important question to contemplate.

Prohibition is inflicting more harm and heartache on society than drugs ever could. Here is a short excerpt, but please follow the link and read the whole story of Sgt. Northcutt's ordeal and how the unwinnable War on Drugs (or shall I say, war on people who use certain drugs) sent a marine to prison for growing medical marijuana in a patients collective.

From Alternet - Sgt. Northcutt's Post-Iraq Nightmare: Getting Arrested for Growing Pot

Gardner: How long were you on medical hold?

Northcutt: For a year. This is when they super-medicate me. I would be given a grocery bag full of really heavy shit. Hydrocodones and anti-depressants, Neurontin, Seroquel, anti-nightmare pills, half of it you get really fucking high on. I’m not much of a pillbilly but I’ve taken them all. And that is true of just about anyone I know who went to Iraq and has come back. They’re all pill experts. How the fuck does that happen? You get back and they just like push 10 pills on you right away.

Gardner: Were you dealing with Marine Corps doctors or the VA?

Northcutt: The Marine Corps. But I was also trying to deal with the VA because they sent me home awaiting orders. I go to live at my grandma’s in Long Beach and I’m chilling in the guest house while I’m waiting to get out of the Marine Corps. The VA Hospital is like a mile from my house and Camp Pendleton is two hours away in traffic. I’m drugged out all day long and they’re like, “You’ve got appointments on this day at Camp Pendleton.” I would just lie in bed all day, loaded. Totally fucked up. But it was cool because a doctor prescribed it. Read more...

As a footnote I'd like to add that Croatia has legalized the use of cannabis for its vets and Canada now covers the cost of medical marijuana for war veterans.

From Why Prohibition: Canadians for Safe Access, a patient advocacy organization, also commends Veterans Affairs Canada for this new policy. "For many, this medicine is more effective than the available alternatives, with fewer negative side-effects. It is so important that the cost for this medicine is covered for those in need," stated Rielle Capler, a director of Canadians for Safe Access. Veterans use cannabis for various medical conditions and symptoms including chronic and phantom limb pain, sleep disturbance, brain injuries, Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. ~

This clip from Botany of Desire does a fantastic job of explaining how and why medical cannabis can help soldiers and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While Canada's medical marijuana program still seems to be finding its way, at least they have recognized that Canadian soldiers deserve to have affordable access to this wonder plant. With this, we will have fewer people dying and becoming dependent on highly addictive prescription drugs. As it stands in the US, legal drugs are the fourth leading cause of death.

Here are the latest VA statistics about Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans:
  • Veterans: 981,834 (out of nearly two million deployed)
  • Veterans Treated at VA Hospitals and Clinics: 425,538 (43.3% of veterans)
  • Veterans Diagnosed by VA with Mental Health Condition: 193,879 (45.6% of veterans treated by VA)
  • Veterans Diagnosed by VA with PTSD: 114,908 (27.0% of veterans treated by VA)
  • Veterans Filing Disability Claims Against VA: 381,782 (38.9% of veterans)
  • Veterans with Approved PTSD Claims: 53,079 (46.2% of the veterans diagnosed by VA with PTSD) - Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access

Relevant UPDATE: VA doctors prohibited from prescribing medical pot March 31, 2010


UPDATE February 22, 2011:

US Navy Veteran To Challenge Missouri's Marijuana Law | Cannabis Culture Magazine

A disabled Navy Veteran who uses marijuana as medicine will fight for his right to use a medical defense in court after being arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute. Ken Unger is a 100% disabled U.S. Navy veteran deemed unemployable by the St. Louis VA. He was hit in the head with a 50-ton crane hook while serving in Grenada in 1983.

Update April 30th, 2012:

While some restrictions are being lifted in states where medical marijuana is legal, Big Pharma drugs are still the go to for the majority of doctors prescribing medication to the military and Veterans.

U.S. military’s war with drugs: Drugs issued by military led to assaults, murders, doctors say

"After two long-running wars with escalating levels of combat stress, more than 110,000 active-duty army troops last year were taking prescribed antidepressants, narcotics, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs, according to figures recently disclosed to the Los Angeles Times by the U.S. army surgeon general."

"Julie Oligschlaeger said her son, Chad, a marine corporal based at Twentynine Palms, Calif. came home from his second tour in Iraq in 2007 complaining of nightmares and hallucinations. He was taking trazodone, fluoxetine, Seroquel, Lorazepam and propranolol, among other medications.

“I didn’t realize how many pills he was on until it was too late,” Oligschlaeger said. “He sometimes would slur his words, and I would think, ‘OK, are you drinking? What is going on?’ And he’d say, ‘Oh, I’m taking my pills, and I’m taking them when I’m supposed to.’ I never thought to look.”

In 2008, two months before Chad was scheduled to get out of the marines, start college and marry his fiancĂ©, the young corporal was found dead on the floor of his room in the barracks. An autopsy concluded the death was accidental due to multiple-drug toxicity — interactions between too many drugs."

Please follow the link and read the whole article - the list of  “EXAMPLE” PSYCHIATRlC FORMULARY FOR DEPLOYMENT is astounding!


medical cannabis - drug substitution: "Eighty five percent of the BPG [Berkeley Patients Group] sample reported that cannabis has much less adverse side effects than their prescription medications. Additionally, the top two reasons listed by participants as reasons for substituting cannabis for one of the substances previously mentioned were less adverse side effects from cannabis (65%) and better symptom management from cannabis (57.4%)."
"The substitution of one psychoactive substance for another with the goal of reducing negative outcomes can be included within the framework of harm reduction. Medical cannabis patients have been engaging in substitution by using cannabis as an alternative to alcohol, prescription and illicit drugs." Source: Reiman, Amanda, "Cannabis as a Substitute for Alcohol and Other Drugs," Harm Reduction Journal (London, United Kingdom: December 2009).
"Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality."

"This is a remarkable statement. First, the record on marijuana encompasses 5,000 years of human experience. Second, marijuana is now used daily by enormous numbers of people throughout the world. Estimates suggest that from twenty million to fifty million Americans routinely, albeit illegally, smoke marijuana without the benefit of direct medical supervision. Yet, despite this long history of use and the extraordinarily high numbers of social smokers, there are simply no credible medical reports to suggest that consuming marijuana has caused a single death."

"By contrast aspirin, a commonly used, over-the-counter medicine, causes hundreds of deaths each year."

Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.



More disappointment from the Obama administration!  Men and women who fought for their country should not be persecuted this way!

'Use marijuana and go to prison' - Gil Kerlikowske's message to Veterans on Memorial Day
(WASHINGTON DC) - The group Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access [VMCA] issued the following news release after receiving word that their long hours spent presenting scientific and medical evidence of the benefits of medical marijuana, was simply rejected yet again.

Relying on the wisdom of Gil Kerlikowske, the nation's 'drug czar', veterans are reminded on Memorial Day that their sacrifices only gain them a small amount of credibility, certainly not enough to allow them to use a plant that grows naturally out of the ground that is a miracle treatment for the survivors of war and military violence for their nation, who suffer PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." - Excerpt, please read the whole article:
White House Statement on Medical Marijuana: Another Step Back for Veterans

"Vets have used cannabis for PTSD since the Revolutionary War. We know what we need and to be told by our President, the Commander in Chief, that he does not care about those he has sent to war by denying medicine to the wounded is unconscionable."


  1. If it weren't for Cessamet (marijuana in pill form - basically, synthetic THC), I would be dead today. I suffer from daily migraine headaches. I have since 1998. They started in 1977 but became daily in 1998 (after the corrupt Toronto Drug Squad set up & got my husband convicted). I was on all the drugs Michael Jackson, et al were on - in huge doses. I hated it. I tried to kill myself 3 times in 2007 in a 6 month period because I couldn't stand the pain anymore. I got on Cessamet and I can function like a normal human being again!! Sweet Mother Nature delivered me yet another miracle! Thank You Mother!! How dare any government deny valid medication to anyone in need -- IT IS MEDICATION!!! Big Pharma just doesn't like the competition and they are a big lobbying force. The government goes where the deep pockets lie.

  2. Mother Nature has that gift, to take care of us. I'm glad you found something that helps! Big Pharma is not always the answer - although our governments try to convince us otherwise.


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