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Frank Wood 
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Re: “The medical marijuana push in Arkansas

I am appalled by by the Veteran's Administration in Arkansas and other states where medical marijuana is illegal to dissolve drug contracts with veterans requiring opiates for pain management because they tested positive for marijuana.
Both cases which have come to my attention involve Vietnam veterans which have been dear friends of mine for thirty years. In each instance the pain for which the opiates were first prescribed originated from massive injuries received in combat while in the service of the United States. In both cases, the pain will never go away, and there is no known alternative medicine which will substitute for the opiates to give these highly decorated military heroes relief. Furthermore, my friends have been given these opiates by the VA at least since the 1970s, and must take these drugs for the remainder of their days to maintain any freedom from chronic pain and thus to maintain any semblance of a normal life. Both men were told by the VA that they had the alternative of enrolling in rehabilitation to get off marijuana, yet today, marijuana has been recognized as a non-addictive drug by most physicians, and thus, in such instances, rehabilitation is costly, time-consuming and absurdly irrelevant. In both cases, neither man was given any warning that their pain medicine was to be discontinued because of cannabis or they would have simply stopped smoking it. Living with the side-effects of opiate addiction would have been greatly superior to living with pain. But to cut off opiates from such reluctant addicts "cold turkey" is tantamount to subjecting them not only to living with the incomprehensible pain of their original injuries but the humiliating and actual torture of withdrawal, yet as I write this they suffer from these very conditions. Nobody is immune to such a tragic potentiality.
Nausea and loss of appetite are unfortunate side-effects of ingesting opiates even for these long-time users and is relieved by smoking cannabis. It is for this reason as well as for relief from the nausea resulting from chemo-therapy and other conditions medical marijuana has been legalized in many states. In the instances cited above, both men would certainly have qualified for cannabis prescriptions in these states.
Neither of these veterans would have ever considered taking such drugs had it not been for their military service and resulting wounds received in battle. In addition, both these veterans have no criminal records of any kind and are compassionate and peaceful members of our American society. It has been my long experience with both these men that they are honorable and now venerable human beings who in the interim since their military service have contributed to the peace of our society in equal measure to their early contribution in war.
I submit that any reason for dissolving opiate drug contracts with suffering veterans for using cannabis is not medical but petty, insensitive and uninformed. Were those responsible for this cruel policy to experience the torture endured by these veterans for five minutes, they would repent of this barbaric and intolerable practice. The few who abuse the system to obtain drugs for which they are not eligible is no excuse to deny these drugs to those who are legitimately in need of them.
I am compelled to write this letter not only for my friends but for all similar cases which undoubtedly exist in which such a policy could easily be a death sentence. Are we to torture and perhaps execute our combat veterans for a misdemeanor?

Frank Wood Little Rock

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Frank Wood on 05/08/2012 at 10:44 AM
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