Sick Kids, Military Vets, and You: The Many Potential Beneficiaries of the Upcoming CARERS Act
Though opioid-based painkillers have been around for quite some time, it wasn’t until the past 20 years or so that they became the scourge on society that we see today. Nowhere is their potential for destruction of life more evident than in our military veteran community which has been ravaged by a decades-long conspiracy between Big Pharma, the VA, and shady politicians.
Between 2001 and 2009, the percent of vets in the VA health care system receiving an opioid prescription jumped from 17% to 24%, and the amount of prescriptions written for opiates by military docs more than quadrupled.
A 2008 survey of 762 vets coming home from war-torn assignments in Afghanistan and Iraq revealed that 64% were prescribed at least one opioid-based drug in the year after their return.
It should come as no surprise, then, that in 2012 the VA prescribed more opiates than ever before and veteran suicides hit their highest mark of all time as well. It’s not a coincidence.
While the VA has since cut its opioid prescription rate by 20%, that itch won’t scratch itself and abuse among the ranks still rose by 55% between 2010 and 2015.
So far, the same Washington politicians who drape themselves in the flag and hide behind these same soldiers anytime their motives get challenged have repeatedly failed to pass laws to give our vets the same rights afforded to civilians in the 31 states and counting that have legalized the medical use of cannabis.
There are a brave, progressive few that have championed this cause on behalf of our veterans, but gridlock in D.C. and a Conservative stranglehold on power has ground every recent effort to a frustrating halt.
Now, however, with a newly seated Democratic Congress in power in the nation’s capital, hopes are once again high that our vets will not be left behind in the war against cannabis prohibition.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect State Act (CARERS Act) was originally introduced in a bipartisan effort back in 2015 but has been shot down in every instance under the GOP-led Congress.
Originally, and perhaps over-ambitiously, the proposed legislation aimed to completely re-schedule the cannabis plant in its entirety from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, down to Schedule II where, in theory, regulation would loosen considerably.
Subsequent versions of the Act have been shaved down from their juicy origin to the point where the same sponsors of the 2015 language are now confident that the time and climate is finally right for real cannabis reform on the federal level.
In essence, the current version of the CARERS Act, if passed as written, would focus on protecting states and agencies that elect to deal in legal weed.
It will do so by attacking the issue from three key angles.
First, the CARERS Act would finally lift the draconian ban on VA doctors talking to their patients about medical marijuana. Not only will vets in states with medical marijuana programs be able to have an honest conversation with their VA doc about the potential benefits of cannabis, but that same doctor will finally be allowed to write the prescription for the vet as well.
As it stands now, vets risk losing their hard-earned VA benefits altogether if they take a third-party route to gain safe access to this known healing medicine. This will be a major step towards deeper and much needed cannabis reform within our armed forces.
You’ve probably heard about the government-grown boof being harvested for research purposes at the University of Mississippi. For decades, this low grade ditch weed has been the only source for law-abiding labs and researchers to use in order to study the pros and cons of cannabis.
Meanwhile, wooks are kicking out infinitely more medicinal and overall superior plants in closets and garages across America.
The CARERS Act will expand cannabis study opportunities by making it far easier for research teams and interested universities to register and get approved for such projects while at the same time allowing for the build-out of several more government-approved grows.
This one should be a no-brainer for any real Republican, but as we know their political compass is pretty skewed these days.
For our entire lives, they’ve been campaigning on how the big, bad, federal government won’t keep their reaching, prying hands out of state’s rights issues.
Want to ban abortions? States have the right, they scream.
Want to ban gay marriage? States have the right, they moan.
Want to force brown people to carry birth certificates? These punks will preach state’s rights until they’re pink in the face.
But legalize weed based on the overwhelming will of the people? Whoa, whoa, whoa… settle down you out of control states!
The CARERS Act will force the feds into a laissez-faire, or hands-off approach to state-level medical marijuana laws, allowing states to regulate their own markets without fear of retribution by whoever is in charge of the Department of Justice from one week to the next.
One of the most important lessons learned in the Trump-era of U.S. politics is that elections have consequences.
We are about to see it again now that the Democrats have wrestled back control of the House.
H.R. 127, the CARERS Act, was re-introduced on January 3rd of this year by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), but the full text of the proposed bill has not been published yet. The bipartisan support that past iterations of the Act have received has those in favor optimistic as public sentiment (ie. political cover) regarding cannabis is at an all-time high.
We still have a majority of weed-hating Republicans in charge of the Senate, and a