America’s Combat Nurse Campaigns to Help Veterinarians Fight PTSD With Cannabis | Comments

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Editor’s Note: This article is provided by Florida A&M University’s Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI).



Retired U.S. Air Force (US-AF) nurse Cherissa Jackson may have survived three sorties to Iraq and Afghanistan where she saw the human toll of war, but years later she is still in a battle that she and hundreds of thousands have others pursued combat veterans.

Jackson’s experience of treating wounded soldiers left her with the invisible scars of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. It is a serious mental illness that Jackson believes affected veterinarians should be able to counteract with medical marijuana provided through the Veterans Affairs health system, an option that is banned as marijuana regardless of its Use that is illegal under federal law.

But she is not taking on this campaign alone; Jackson is the senior medical director of the Healthcare, Evaluations, Advocacy and Legislation (HEAL) program of AMVETS, a leading advocate of medical marijuana as an effective treatment for veterinarians with PTSD and other chronic health conditions.

Organized conference

AMVETS describes itself as “the most comprehensive congressional-chartered veterans service organization in the country” with 250,000 members. Jackson, who served and rose to captaincy in the USAF for more than 23 years, describes herself as “America’s combat nurse” as she works to remove legal and bureaucratic barriers that prevent veterinarians from turning to natural alternatives to potentially addictive drugs to access.

“I take this role very personally, and I’m out here every day fighting and standing up for veterans,” said Jackson, who wrote a memoir of her own struggles with PTSD, “At Peace, Not in Pieces: Powering Through the Pain . ”

Jackson organized the country’s first conference to educate veterans about the cannabis industry and the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis.

The Veterans Alternative Healthcare Summit took place as a virtual event on June 27, National PTSD Awareness Day, in 2021.

There were high profile medical cannabis advocates, Montel Williams, who served in the Navy and Navy, and Dr. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist who has conducted research into treating PTSD patients with cannabis.

Conference topics included “Understanding the Endocannabinoid System and Medical Benefits of Cannabis,” “Accessing Medical Cannabis,” “Lobbying for Change,” “Career Opportunities for Veterans in Cannabis,” and “Cannabis Education and Research”.

Session videos available



Cherissa Jackson organized the country’s first conference to educate veterans about the cannabis industry and the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis.

Dr. Patricia Green-Powell, executive director of Florida A & M’s Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI), was a guest speaker for the discussion on education and research.

Videos of each breakout session will be posted online at www.amvetshealprogram.org.

Jackson said her motivation for hosting the summit was to promote an AMVETS resolution calling on veterans to have access to medical marijuana and, more importantly, to support a movement that allows health care providers in VA to have cannabis treatments to recommend.

Currently, the VA only allows their doctors to talk to veterans about cannabis use. But the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, awaiting action by the US Senate, is designed to allow doctors in Virginia to treat veterinarians with medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

“That would be huge,” Jackson said of the impact the law, if approved, would have on veterans. “For veterans, it would be a cost saving if their VA vendors actually wrote the recommendations. These medical marijuana cards cost anywhere from $ 150 to $ 200 just to be allowed to go to a pharmacy. VA health care providers could also educate veterans about the effectiveness of cannabis and its uses. “

Second summit planned

Sensing a momentum developing for something very personal to her as a veteran with PTSD, Jackson has already planned a second summit for this year. It will be held as a personal event in Hawaii on November 4th and 5th.

“I think it’s very important for veterans to know that they have options out here, and the option doesn’t always have to be an opioid. It doesn’t always have to be a drug that you don’t want to take. I think it’s important that we spread the gospel that veterans have options. I think it’s important that we give these resources to veterans so that we can lower the veteran suicide rate, ”she said.

While veterans cannot see doctors in Virginia for cannabis treatment, in states where medical marijuana is legal they can see qualified doctors at their expense. But Jackson said she meets veterans who perpetuate the myth that they could lose their VA benefits if they were discovered to be using cannabis.

“There is nothing, technically, that says you will lose your benefits if you tell your VA provider that you are using cannabis. There is no law, but I know this is a fear in the veteran community, ”she said.

MMERIs Conversations on Cannabis Virtual Forum with Cherissa Jackson is available at Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akHS3mHetVI. Visit MMERI’s website at http://mmeri.famu.edu.