By Amy Rising

It’s summer again and I’m reminded of the blind patriotism of most Americans. On the Fourth of July, I cringed as fireworks were set off a mere 100 feet from my house. I stayed in, because I didn’t want to be reminded of the war that stole my youth.

My neighbors, two 20-something men, never considered their proximity to any veterans, and it made me wonder: “Do they even know what post traumatic stress is?”

Americans everywhere, especially politicians, love to say how much they support their troops. Yet, there is a Veterans Administration backlog that stretches close to a million unresolved disability claims and a veteran suicide rate of 22 per day. Furthermore, new statistics show that around 20 percent of post 9/11 veterans suffer from PTS — and that number is projected to grow. (Ed. note: The author states, "There should be no 'D' in PTSD. Veterans are moving to not have it referred to as a 'disorder.' Because it really isn't. It's post traumatic stress.")

Psychotropic drugs are the first line of defense in treating PTS, but there are no pharmaceutical treatments that have been specifically developed to combat PTS. In a study released by the NYU Langone Medical Center, Alexander Neumeister, MD says: “There’s a consensus among clinicians that existing pharmaceutical treatments, such as antidepressants, simply do not work. In fact, we know very well that people with PTS who use marijuana — a potent cannabinoid — often experience more relief from their symptoms than they do from antidepressants and other psychiatric medications.”

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 CB1 receptors help govern mood and memory forming; sufferers of PTS have more CB1 receptors in the areas of the brain correlated with fear and anxiety, while having fewer of the neurotransmitter anandamide, an endocannabinoid that attaches to CB1 receptors. Thus, medical cannabis is the obvious choice to increase the amount of endocannabinoids, without assaulting the receptors.

However, politicians like Gov. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, who just signed the state’s new medical marijuana law, ignore the emerging evidence and purposely turn their back on vets. Earlier this spring, Hassan struck down PTS as a qualifying condition on the state’s medical cannabis ballot, due to “lack of proof” that it’s an effective treatment. Additionally,  the New York State Senate didn’t even consider PTS as a condition prior to the bill’s death.

It’s been said that "war is the sound of money eating." But there is no one industrial-complex; American industry is the complex. The pharmaceutical industrial-complex supports the military-industrial complex, which supports the manufacturing-complex -- and so on. All of these industries are back-end war profiteers -- and corporations make campaign contributions. It’s no secret that war and prohibition are lucrative. The fact is Americans aren’t supporting their troops or even themselves, they’re distracted by sports teams and blindly giving away their rights to these very same corporations.   

We need to hold our politicians accountable for their words and actions. The same "chickenhawks" who wanted the war are the same ones that support reefer madness, depriving the troops of effective, nonaddictive relief. We need tough, direct policy action from citizens and politicians, at both the state and local level in order to truly support our troops. 

Amy Rising is a US Air Force veteran (2001-2005) and was IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) until 2009.