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Why the Miraculous Healing Properties of Weed Are Driving a Decorated Veteran on a Mission

Veteran Perry Parks is fighting to bring pot to vets like himself who are crushed by PTSD.

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“In recent years, there have been significantly more US veteran and military deaths by suicide than in combat,” the article notes.

The article follows Staff Sergeant Mike Whiter, who attempted suicide three times after returning home from combat tours in Kosovo and Iraq. After learning about medical marijuana and PTSD on the Discovery Channel, Whiter switched from prescription drugs to marijuana. His life has improved markedly:

“No more sleepless nights, no more flashbacks, no more isolation in his home—in fact, Whiter is now the co-director of  Philadelphia NORML and the founder of  Pennsylvania Veterans for Medical Marijuana."

While government organizations like the FDA and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have continually blocked federally sanctioned studies on the topic,  research is increasingly connecting cannabis with reduced PTSD symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia. 

Brain imaging research was published in May in the journal Molecular Psychiatry providing physiological evidence behind cannabis’ ability to mitigate some PTSD symptoms. In July,  High Times published an article titled “Treating PTSD With Pot,” which states:

“Research has shown that there is a connection between the amount of cannabinoid receptors in the human brain, known as CB1 receptors, and post-traumatic stress.”

The Leaf Online published an  article December 16 by Paul Armentano noting that the scientific journal Drug Testing and Analysis published evidence in July that the use of cannabis and cannabinoids likely mitigates symptoms associated with PTSD.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies has been working since 2010 to achieve government approval for a study that will look at whether smoking or vaporizing marijuana can help reduce PTSD symptoms in 50 veterans with PTSD. MAPS spokesperson Brad Burge says the organization is currently waiting to hear back from the National Institute on Drug Abuse following its Oct 24 resubmission of the study’s protocol—which is now FDA and IRB approved—to find out whether NIDA will sell them the marijuana they need for the study.

“Unfortunately, unlike the FDA, which must respond to submissions within 30 days of receiving them, NIDA has no such time limit, so we don't know how long we'll be waiting,” Burge said in an email to AlterNet. “It could be days, or months, and in the meantime, they're successfully blocking research that already has the go-ahead from multiple agencies.”

Perry Parks says while there have been a number of positive breakthroughs when it comes to marijuana law in the U.S. this year, he does not see cause to celebrate just yet, as veterans across the country continue to suffer needlessly.

“This is happening to veterans right now because of bad laws and bad policies that aren’t based in facts and research,” he said. “Once you create an unjust law and color people’s minds so that they can’t see the truth anymore, you have some responsibility for that. You also have an obligation, if you recognize it’s the truth, you have to speak the truth.”

Parks intends to continue to spread the truth and fight for medical access until cannabis is available to help people in every state.


April M. Short is an associate editor at AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @AprilMShort.

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