This excellent article, sent to me by my friend Steve Hampton, Esq., is a long one, but it should be a must read for everyone concerned about our servicemen and women! Take ten minutes to read it all. Why? Because we owe it to those who did serve!
Here is another good reason: “You got 22 veteran suicides a day! That’s what you got for your money! You got an opioid abuse and addiction epidemic!”
Our apathy, and Jeff Sessions’ stupidity, are killing these brave youngsters and harming our military. Consider this: In June 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Report indicated that more than 75,000 Americans with military backgrounds became suicides from 2005-2015. At 20.6 deaths a day, that’s nearly 20,000 more than were killed during the 16 years of war in Vietnam. Of those daily tallies, 3.8 were still in uniform. Which means that over that 10-year stretch, the Pentagon lost 13,870 active duty troops to self-inflicted wounds, nearly twice the number who’ve died in combat since the 9/11 terror attacks.
See how astonishingly uninformed is acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief Robert Patterson!
Excerpts from the Article:
The Lutz Memorial Wall honors veterans who’ve taken their lives as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder. The 369 faces pictured here represent roughly two weeks’ worth of self-inflicted fatalities.
They are mostly young, and mostly male, dress blues and dusty camos, T-shirts and jeans, helmets, berets and baseball caps. The one behind the aviator shades, cigarette dangling loosely, could pass for a grunge-band drummer; more often, the hairstyles skew military, high-and-tight. One guy shows off a croquet mallet, another holds a puppy. That one over there is a banjo picker. Some smiles are more convincing than others.
The glossy portraits are tucked into transparent plastic sleeves and connected to each other by small metal rings. Each portrait is bordered in black. The black borders contain, in white letters, names, ages, branches of service and the dates they killed themselves. They killed themselves by gunshot, hanging, drug overdose, poison, asphyxiation — whatever suited their calculations or impulse. One took a blade to arteries on both sides of his groin and bled out. The portraits are arranged in columns four deep and, when fully extended, they exceed the distance from home plate to first base by nearly 10 feet. First in line, far left, top row, top corner, is the 24-year-old for whom this “LCpl Janos V Lutz PTS Memorial Wall” is named. That black script lettering is bannered across the only non-portrait in the wall. It shows a blue sky punctuated by stratocumulus, Old Glory fluttering at the edge.
The Memorial Wall’s namesake is in uniform, crouching, looking relieved, hand resting atop the head of a Taliban donkey. According to his mother, he has just survived a firefight in Afghanistan.
On Jan. 12, 2013, Lutz returned to the bedroom where he grew up. On his forehead, in black magic marker, he inscribed the letters “DNR” — do not resuscitate. He spelled it out on his laptop: “I’m sorry. I am happier now.” He swallowed a fistful of prescription morphine pills. It was his third attempt; this time, it worked.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 45,000 Americans took their lives in 2016. Behaviorists are stumped over this epidemic, which has been ticking upward since 1999, because 54 percent of these fatalities had no history of mental health issues. But today, veterans are killing themselves at twice the civilian rate. And there is less confusion over that data.
In June 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Report indicated that more than 75,000 Americans with military backgrounds became suicides from 2005-2015. At 20.6 deaths a day, that’s nearly 20,000 more than were killed during the 16 years of war in Vietnam. Of those daily tallies, 3.8 were still in uniform. Which means that over that 10-year stretch, the Pentagon lost 13,870 active duty troops to self-inflicted wounds, nearly twice the number who’ve died in combat since the 9/11 terror attacks.
For years, the VA’s daily suicide count stood at 22. It was downgraded to 20 four years ago, before its current status at 20.6. On this sweltering Memorial Day weekend, a contingent of millennial-heavy veterans assembled at Lafayette Square is loath to trust institutional pronouncements anymore. In their chants and speeches, they stick with the number 22.
The most conspicuous number today is 369 — that’s how many photos are linked together in the Lutz Memorial Wall. All but 10 are military, the rest are first responders. Divided by 22 suicides a day, the key number rounds out to about 16. In other words, this collapsible gallery of the dead embodies roughly 16 days’ worth of veterans for whom living became unbearable.
And nothing happens. If only they had been fighting for Canada. Veterans Affairs Canada has been reimbursing its veterans for medical cannabis since 2008. Come October, our northern neighbors will make marijuana legal for everybody.
On May 18, under questioning from the House Judiciary Committee, acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief Robert Patterson delivered perplexing testimony. Thirty years with the agency, and Patterson was a pillar of selective knowledge.
Quizzed about what percentage of the 64,000 fatal American drug overdoses in 2016 were from nonprescription opioids, Patterson said “Fentanyl alone makes up for about 20,000.” Combinations of heroin and fentanyl, he added, accounted for the balance.
Pressed further, Patterson said he was unfamiliar with surveys from legal medical marijuana states that showed patients are using cannabis to sever their dependencies with pharmaceuticals. He was unaware of a 2017 study by the National Academy of Sciences affirming that marijuana products do, in fact, mitigate chronic pain.
Asked how many Americans had suffered fatal marijuana overdoses, Patterson replied, “I am aware of a few deaths from marijuana,” but he could supply no substantiating numbers. The DEA website states, “No death from overdose of marijuana has been reported.” Unable to recite the amount of arrests for illegal drug use logged in 2016, he was informed by U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, that marijuana alone accounted for 800,000, that African-Americans were nearly 3.5 times more likely to face those charges, and — reading from a Washington Post headline — that “more people were arrested for pot than for murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery combined.”
Resistance to cannabis as medicine “has nothing to do with cannabis,” insists Dr. Mikhail Kogan, medical director of the George Washington Center for Integrative Medicine in Washington. “I can probably list half a thousand effective modalities of treatment that are strongly evidenced, and yet they are not advocated for the medical field. Clinicians are very conservative.” Hogan, who did consulting work for two years with a Veterans Affairs hospital in Washington, appeared with Belen on C-Span’s “exit drug” panel in April. He says critics of the VA are barking up the wrong tree, suicides or no.
“If the physician has an ethical dilemma, they should leave the VA and go to work for the private sector. That’s it. And they can prescribe cannabis there. I got out of the VA when I realized my hands were tied on so many fronts, and I knew it was my ethical responsibility to serve my patients to the best of what I ethically see fit.
“But I’m not going to argue that the institution as a whole is so screwed up, because they’re not, they’re trying to keep above the water. And frankly, they’re doing a lot better than 99 percent of the institutions in this country.”
Kogan maintains that cannabis should be de-scheduled, not rescheduled, because it’s “safer than Tylenol.” But according Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller, reassigning marijuana’s status is only the beginning. What the nation should be gearing up for, he says, is regulatory oversight at the federal level.
“Each state has their own laws on cannabis, right? The problem is that the regulation then falls on each state, which is a monumental task. It is not just an issue of oversight of the plant, but also the production and sale of goods processed from the plant, like edibles, tinctures, oils, whatever,” says Bonn-Miller, coordinating principal investigator of a study on the impact of marijuana on veterans with PTSD.
“The pharmacological agents may have a certain biochemical efficacy, but chances are they’re not going to have the kind of whole-body effect that can interact with every cell in your body. But it’s not going to be enough to say plants are just as effective and they’re cheaper than pharmacological entities in the long run,” he says. And impediments to proving that through research will continue “until we get rid of Schedule 1.”
n 1970, American support for legalization was a fearful 12 percent. Today, according to a Center for American Progress poll released in June, support has more than quintupled, to 68 percent. Consequently, with 30 states sanctioning medical cannabis, and with nine of those legalizing personal use, Congress might well have enough votes to reclassify marijuana today.
Unfortunately,” says Armentano, “there has yet to even be a single hearing in Congress for a piece of legislation to address that issue, because committee chairs keep making sure these bills never reach the floor.
The Controlled Substances Act was designed to codify America’s myriad drug laws under a single statute. Congress arbitrarily assigned no-medicinal-value Schedule 1 status to marijuana as a placeholder until it could be formally reviewed by a special panel. After all, in a 1971 Journal of the American Medical Association article that would foreshadow the avalanche of revelations to come, researchers announced marijuana was relieving intraocular pressure in some glaucoma patients.
Since 1972, the Schedule 1 legacy of the only U.S. president to resign from office has generated well over 20 million arrests of Americans on marijuana charges, according to NORML. An American Civil Liberties Union study puts the the annual estimated cost of enforcing those laws at $3.6 billion.
To date, at least 113 cannabinoids have been identified. The best known are tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive ingredient, and cannabidiol or CBD, which has no intoxicating properties. Between the two, using delivery systems as diverse as creams, oils, vaporizers and tinctures, clinicians have employed combinations to fight nausea, pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimers and muscle spasms, to mention a few.
But in 2017, the National Academy of Sciences stated the U.S. should have made far more progress than it has: “Specific regulatory barriers, including the classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance, impede the advancement of research.” Furthermore, “Researchers often find it difficult to gain access to the quantity, quality and type of cannabis product necessary to address specific research questions.”
To date, the DEA has received 26 applications. None have been granted, because Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the agency to suspend the screening process. “Sessions and the DEA are not rejecting any of the applications, because they have no legal grounds to reject them,” says Doblin, the MAPS executive director. “So what they’re doing is delaying. And that’s been the main strategy for 50 years, to delay. Particularly when they don’t have good arguments. In the meantime, we keep having all these veteran suicides.”
On record as saying “Good people don’t smoke pot,” Sessions has never disguised his contempt for cannabis. Last December, he huddled with 81-year-old former Nixon drug czar Robert DuPont, reportedly to address federal strategies to contain growing public support for marijuana. Among DuPont’s suggestions was making drug testing a mandatory addition to primary health care. In January, Sessions revoked the Obama-era “Cole memo” that allowed states to develop their own marijuana rules without federal meddling, and vowed a return to the “rule of law.”
Last year, the American Legion, the oldest and largest veterans service organization in the U.S., could ignore the facts no longer. Since the expansion of its Veterans Crisis Line in 2007, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been logging 500,000 phone calls, e-chats and text messages annually, and its staff have sent emergency services to callers more than 66,000 times. And since early 2015, the Legion itself has been getting swamped by calls from traumatized Iraq/Afghanistan veterans for whom VA prescriptions weren’t working. They wanted legal access to marijuana.
The Legion conducted its own membership survey. Ninety-two percent of veteran households supported research into the medical benefits of cannabis. Eighty-three percent favored medical legalization, and 82 percent wanted marijuana as a treatment option. The poll indicated 22 percent of veterans are already using marijuana as medicine.
“You got 22 veteran suicides a day! That’s what you got for your money! You got an opioid abuse and addiction epidemic!”