AUSTIN, Texas — Texas veterans gathered at the State Capitol Wednesday for a lobby day in support of comprehensive medical marijuana legislation. The event comes on the heels of a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll published Tuesday, which found 83% of Texans support making marijuana legal for medical purposes and 53% support making it legal for any purpose.
The group held a news conference in front of the Vietnam Veterans Monument, the same location where they launched Operation Trapped in November 2015. Operation Trapped is a veteran-based campaign that was formed to build support for legislation allowing the use of medical marijuana as a safer alternative to prescription drugs in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic pain, and other service-related conditions.
“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 are meeting with lawmakers throughout the day to voice their support for HB 2107 and SB 269, which would allow seriously ill patients to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.
They are also delivering a letter to the office of Gov. Greg Abbott, requesting that he meet with some of the veterans who have used medical marijuana to treat PTSD, TBI, and chronic pain. The letter was originally sent to Abbott last year with a request for a meeting with the governor. The governor’s office has yet to indicate if or when there may be a meeting. It will be re-delivered Wednesday with the signatures of more than 1,400 Texas veterans who want Abbot to hear firsthand testimony about the benefits of medical marijuana for veterans.
“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.”