Vets Turn to Medical Marijuana to Treat Pain and PTSD

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Stock photo of a prescription for medical marijuana.

Ensuring veterans have adequate healthcare has been a chronic challenge for the American political system, particularly in the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The suicide rate for recent vets is 50 percent higher than non-military civilians.

But the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance in northern California is now offering a different kind of treatment for PTSD or chronic pain: Medical marijuana that's grown on site and given free to participating soldiers.

While federally illegal, the drug has shown to help manage pain, reduce muscle spasms in patients suffering from conditions like multiple sclerosis, and two clinical trials have shown that it helps with psychosis for those with brain conditions like schizophrenia.

And now that medical marijuana has been legalized across 23 states and in Washington, D.C., groups like the SCVA are seizing the opportunity to give vets an alternative to painkillers. Veterans that have successfully obtained a prescription in the state are able to receive as much as $400 of medical marijuana a month during meetings.

Alyssa Jeong Perry is a San Francisco-based journalist and she recently visited a SCVA meeting, and shares her findings on The Takeaway.

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