Today's intersection: cannabis and the VA

The military loves TRICARE but through sequestration the Republican Party managed to cripple both the Veterans Health Administration and the Indian Health Service so GOP donors could push for privatization. 

The Republican government shutdown and the 2013 sequester not only ripped into military readiness the impacts on personnel are staggering. Since the second Bush administration invaded Afghanistan and Iraq over 30,000 veterans have died by suicide compared to 7,057 who died from combat related injuries according to research conducted by the Watson Institute at Brown University.
David Evans had just graduated from the Montana Youth Challenge Academy in Dillon. Two weeks after his graduation from the academy in 2007, Evans left for basic training. The next year, he was stationed in Baghdad. But some veterans, like Evans, have not felt the effects of the flood of money that the VA has received over the past 20 years. “I haven’t seen any of it, that’s for damn sure,” Evans said. The Army’s answers to his mental health issues were to shower him with prescription drugs, he said. ['A big cumbersome beast’: The rising cost of caring for veterans]
Democratic Montana Senator Jon Tester has been a veterans advocate since before he even went to Congress. His VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act directs the VA to begin clinical trials to test the effects of cannabis as therapy for chronic pain and to treat the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
While the VA has embraced the federally illegal status of the drug, agency policy does not allow discrimination against veterans who acquire medical cards in states where it is allowed, although those who do get their MMJ cards do so with their own resources and at their own risk outside the purview of the Veterans Health Administration. Until recently, cannabis researchers were required to only use plants grown at the University of Mississippi. Often referred to as “lawnmower clippings,” cannabis mandated by the U.S. government through the National Institute on Drug Abuse has been described as sub-standard, usually containing stems and seeds and sometimes even mold. It is often stored in freezers for years at a time. And it has no more than 9% THC, the active compound in cannabis — far less than the 20% to 30% in the cannabis sold at medical and recreational dispensaries. [VA sending mixed messages for vets about cannabis use to treat PTSD]
There is a growing movement among Democrats and others to fund Medicare for all but I like the idea of rolling the funding for Obamacare, TRICARE, Medicare, the Indian Health Service and the VHA together then offering Medicaid for all by increasing the estate tax, raising taxes on tobacco and adopting a carbon tax. 

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