Veterans up in Arms Over Medical Marijuana
After 21 years of military service, retired Army Maj. David Bass’ freedom and health are currently at the mercy of Texas state government.
He’s one of thousands of veterans facing potential incarceration and fines for self-medicating with cannabis.
For David, it all started after serving on the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad.
Upon his return home, Veterans Affairs doctors diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
His treatment consisted of a cocktail of highly addictive opium-derived painkillers and psychotropic drugs with horrible side effects.
“I felt like a zombie. I had flat emotions, experienced suicidal ideation. I got addicted to hydrocodone. It got to where I couldn’t do without taking it every day…”
Migraines, insomnia and increased anxiety were just a few of the side effects he experienced as his doctors moved him from one prescription to another.
After one year of this treatment, David’s health continued to deteriorate…
“[My doctors] told me that I needed to take these drugs for at least two more years before we even talked about not using them anymore.”
David took his health into his own hands. And it made him a criminal…
“I became very discouraged. One day, I was so discouraged that I flushed the drugs down the toilet…
“I researched medical cannabis and discovered that thousands of veterans testify that cannabis is effective for chronic pain and PTSD.”
That’s when he tried cannabis and found similar results.
“Cannabis wasn’t a gateway drug for me. It was an exit drug,” he says.
But this “exit” strategy from psychotropic drugs and opium-derived painkillers could land David behind bars.
Texas is one of 22 states that criminalize the medical use of cannabis. That means he’s forced to self-medicate without any counsel from his doctors and with fear of problems with the law.
In Texas, possession of less than two ounces of cannabis can land him up to 180 days in prison.
But instead of moving to one of the 28 states where medical use of cannabis is legal, David is fighting the Texas government head on.
Through “Operation Trapped,” he’s enlisted other veterans like him in the fight to give doctors and patients in Texas the freedom to explore the merits of medical-grade cannabis.
They’re one of several groups rallying support for state Senate Bill 269, which would allow patients with debilitating and chronic medical conditions to receive cannabis under the guidance of their doctor.
More than 1,400 veterans have joined “Operation Trapped” in an effort to add Texas to the growing list of states with medical cannabis programs.
Meanwhile, a growing number of entrepreneurs and companies with experience in the legal cannabis space are focusing their attention on the Lone Star State.
Dallas, Texas, will welcome doctors, patients and business leaders from around the country for the second annual Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo in the coming month.
Texas is not alone in the list of conservative states that are on the cusp of legalization.
Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah are all debating bills that would create legal cannabis programs in their states.
State lawmakers can no longer afford to ignore their constituents’ calls for legalization as more data from states with legalized cannabis programs become available.
While politicians look to the benefits materializing in other states, investors are also looking to the gains made by early investors.