Veterans plea to Texas lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and chronic pain are just a few of the service-related conditions veterans return home with.

The group, Texans For Responsible Marijuana Policy, gathered by the Vietnam Veterans Monument at the Texas State Capitol Wednesday to push for medical marijuana legislation. This is where the veterans launched their campaign Operation Trapped in 2015. The purpose of the operation is to gain grass-roots support for marijuana as a safe treatment option for veterans.

A new poll shows that 83 percent of Texans support medical marijuana, according to the University of Texas and Texas Tribune. The poll also found that 53 percent of Texans support legalization of marijuana for any purpose.

“Every day, veterans are prescribed dangerous and addictive pharmaceutical drugs to treat service-related injuries and illnesses,” said Kate Cochran Morgan, a veteran Navy FMF hospital corpsman. “Many of these drugs cause side effects for which another pill is prescribed. Cannabis can help treat conditions like PTSD and chronic pain, and it has a better safety profile than aspirin. It is unacceptable that veterans are being denied access to this medicine.”

The veterans will discuss Senate Bill 269 and House Bill 2107, which are both proposals to allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans with serious illnesses. Another letter will also be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott asking for him to meet with veterans who have benefited from medical marijuana as treatment. Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy sent a letter to Abbott last year, but his office never indicated if they would be willing to meet with veterans. More than 1,400 veterans have signed the letter.

“What I love about this bill is veterans are taking the lead on saying ‘hey this needs to happen,'” said Morgan. “We love all the people that are here putting their life, their reputations on the line–putting themselves out there because they believe in this so much.”

“For many veterans, cannabis offers an exit from the seemingly endless cycle of pharmaceutical drugs to treat the physical and psychological wounds inflicted by our military service,” said veteran Army Sgt. Javier Tovias, who served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. “Painkillers and drugs used to treat PTSD often compound problems, but cannabis offers a safer alternative. Safe and legal access to medical cannabis could greatly improve the quality of life for countless Texas veterans.”

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