Army Surgeon Gen: Pot Worse Than Tobacco, But Favors More Research For PTSD

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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The Army’s surgeon general isn’t sure about the efficacy of marijuana to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Lt. Gen. Nadja West says marijuana “has a lot of adverse health effects,” but she does favor more research into the drug’s effectiveness in treating PTSD, Time reported Thursday.

“[Pot] is more dangerous, with some of the carcinogens that are in it, than tobacco,” West told Time. “[W]e should always, at least, have an open mind to look at things in an evidence-based way for something that could be useful for our soldiers.”

“[U]nfortunately the Army Surgeon General has taken an ignorant position,” executive director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, Michael Krawirz, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“The bottom line is that the active ingredient in Cannabis is THC, a drug that is schedule 3, approved by FDA, and is remarkably safe as a medicine,” Krawirz continued. “[W]hile the active ingredient in tobacco is nicotine which is sold at farm supplies as a pesticide.” Marinol is the FDA-approved marijuana synthetic Krawirz speaks of.

West asserts marijuana is more harmful than cigarettes, but the “largest and longest study” ever done on the effects of inhaling marijuana smoke found smoking marijuana, “does not impair lung function.” The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. What’s more, the study found low to moderate pot smokers actually showed increased lung function.

And there are other studies that show marijuana’s effectiveness in treating PTSD.

Israeli scientists found that “dosing rats with cannabinoids following a traumatic event could make them immune to future triggers.” The scientists used rats because they have a “similarity to humans in responding to trauma.”

“The truth is that marijuana can treat the whole spectrum of PTSD symptoms,” Dr. Sue Sisley told Leaf Science in 2014.

A 2013 study done by George Greer published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, found a, “75 percent reduction in CAPS (a clinician administered PTSD metric) scores when patients were using cannabis.”

In May, both houses of Congress passed bills allowing Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend marijuana to patients in states where it is legal. However, in June, during the committee phase of the final bill, Congress ultimately decided to take the language out of the spending bill it was attached to.

Krawitz, himself a disabled U.S. Air Force veteran, started a White House petition. Despite the petition not gaining the usual threshold of signatures to elicit a response from the White House, it still got a response.

“When the President took office, he directed all his policymakers to develop policies on science and research, not ideology or politics,” Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, wrote in his response.

A Quinnipiac University National poll in June showed a vast majority of Americans, 87 percent, favor allowing veterans to access medical marijuana.

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Craig Boudreau