Last January a young navy veteran with PTSD was featured in this column because of his complexed struggle with PTSD and other mental health challenges. He pleaded with Oklahoma to make his medical treatment plan legal in Oklahoma.
He said that without this, he may never be able to be stable enough to re-enter the workforce full time and get off govt. assistance. He thought the voters had answered his plea on election night. But now he's not sure their help will be allowed to reach his medical team.
Here's an open letter he wrote:
To all Citizens and State Officials of Oklahoma, regarding the overregulation of SQ-788:
It is important to have access to professionally grown, third-party tested cannabis products, to include smokable dry flower with a wide range of cannabinoid percentage variance, sold in a dispensary with industry professionals to give advice on the benefits of various strains to help patients find what works best for them. Many ailments require different strains to achieve the most beneficial and effective treatment.
They could make a mistake and it would take months to grow a new crop to harvest. Even if they successfully grow the plants, what if the strains they grew end up not working for their particular conditions? We should leave this up to the professionals that already have the knowledge, resources and skills to provide cannabis on a commercial scale. I don't know the first thing about growing cannabis, and I would prefer to buy from a professional that can tell me details about the product I am buying.
The benefits of smokable cannabis outweigh the risks. It provides effective and fast relief for acute conditions that by definition are severe and sudden in onset, and would require a fast-acting treatment. (e.g. if a patient is brought into an emergency room for an anxiety/panic attack, they are often given valium intravenously for fast relief to stabilize them).
Cannabinoid percentages should not have restrictive limits. The endocannabinoid system is very complex, and has yet to be fully researched and understood. Based on current knowledge, patients should have access to a multitude of cannabis strains with varying cannabinoid composition, to find the most effective treatment on an individual basis. What works for one person may not necessarily work as well for the next. Currently, under the Board of Health regulations, the THC limit for cannabis flower is 20%. One strain of cannabis that I have found to be highly effective is called "Spec Ops". It was developed specifically for Veterans with PTSD. It has a THC content of nearly 30%, so under the current regulations, Veterans would not be allowed access to this strain.
My personal experience with cannabis:
I suffer from various conditions including PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Chronic Pain, Migraines, etc...
I have been struggling with flashbacks and nightmares, depression, mood swings, uncontrollable anxiety attacks, hypervigilance, insomnia, etc...
The dissociation that comes from this, in which I feel emotionally detached from the world around me and basically feel like I am just observing life in the third person, has been the most trying of my will. I have dealt with suicidal ideations for some time now because of these issues. It gets to the point where I suffer so much that I am ready to end it. I have even made previous attempts on my own life.
I have spent three separate stays in psychiatric units at a military hospital and the V.A. I am currently taking upwards of 24 prescription pills per day from the V.A. In 2017, I took approximately 9,000 pills. These pills have not helped me, nor has the extensive time in therapy and various treatment.
Late last year, after discussing cannabis with friends, as well as viewing success stories of various people with different conditions that found cannabis to be the only effective treatment for their conditions, I made the decision to give it a try, figuring I had nothing left to lose.
So, I took a trip to Colorado to try cannabis. It was the most emotional experience I have had. My racing thoughts became more calm and collected. My anxiety and fears started to fade away. My depression was lifted. My worries about the past and the future faded away, and I was able to just enjoy the present moment with my friends.
I was able to eat well because the nausea from my medications and stress was gone, and I felt a healthy appetite again. I felt relaxed enough to where I could let my guard down and actually enjoy watching television again and even have a conversation while maintaining eye contact.
I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. When I woke, I couldn't remember if I even had a dream, which was shocking because I have horrible nightmares almost every night that I remember vividly. I felt relaxed into the mid morning, but I was clear headed. There was no hangover like there would be from alcohol.
Overall during this experience, I felt happy again. I felt like I had a sense of control over my life again finally. I felt a sense of regaining my quality of life. I started to feel positive emotions again. I felt like I was starting to get my life back. Overall it gave me hope, when all else failed.
That relief was all from smoking cannabis. Edible cannabis products take much longer to take effect and have different properties when digested rather than inhaled. Smoking cannabis has been the most effective and fast treatment I have found and it is my preferred method of ingestion.
P.s. My personal story is not meant to be the focus here, it is just to give you perspective on why this overregulation is doing more harm than anything. Many Veterans, and patients in general are turning to cannabis instead of the harmful pharmaceutical drugs they are on. They deserve access to this to be able to live a better life and stay on a positive path to recovery.
*I understand that this post is very lengthy, so I appreciate your time if you read it all the way through. Thank you.
Please share to help spread awareness.
-U.S. Navy Veteran