CBD, The Veteran Community, And PTSD

Posted by Anthony Phillips on

If you haven’t heard yet, CBD is taking the United States and the world really by storm! If you are ready this I am sure you have already heard about this hemp-extracted cannabinoid. 

The CBD market has matured so much that it has garnered the attention of U.S. Senators and Multi-billions dollar corporations. The veteran population has also been giving CBD a lot of attention based on the promise is shows with PTSD.

Even large beverage companies are following the growth of CBD closely leading to speculation of their imminent involvement in the industry. Most recently CVS and Walgreens both decided to begin carrying CBD products in some of their stores.

The CBD Market is predicted to grow to $22 billion by 2022, and amazing growth compared to its 2018 expected $591 million number. So many people now swear by CBD’s therapeutic benefits such as pain relief and anxiety relief without the potential psychoactive high associated with “marijuana”. Many of these making these claims are veterans dealing with PTSD and anxiety. PTSD is a very common diagnosis from the VA.

The booming CBD market has really taken off since President Donald Trump in December 2018 signed a bill into law that legalized commercial hemp cultivation and production of products on a federal level. With the passing of this bill, CBD is now legal across the United States and this will likely have a large impact on use among veterans.

CBD which can be extracted from hemp, however hemp and hemp products were not legal at the federal level in the United States until the passage of the bill in late 2018. Even still this did not stop the market from growing due to gray areas and confusion over existing laws.

Kentucky Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been the biggest motivating force to legalize hemp and hemp products for the past few years. He also introduced legislation in the Senate to fully legalize industrial hemp. Kentucky has deep roots in the hemp industry dating all the way back to the days of the pioneers.

McConnell spoke to American Military News saying, “For far too long, the federal government has prevented most farmers from growing hemp. I have heard from many Kentucky farmers who agree it’s time to remove the federal hurdles in place and give our state the opportunity to seize its full potential and once again become the national leader for hemp production. That’s why I was proud to introduce legislation in the Senate to finally and fully legalize industrial hemp.”

In 2018 Senator McConnell sponsored a bill called the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 or just The Farm Bill as many of us refer to it. The Bill legalized hemp and removed it from the federal list of controlled substances in the United States. Hemp had formerly been on the list along with cannabis, heroin, ecstasy aka MDMA.

McConnell was so passionate about hemp, he even made use of the hashtag #hempfarmbill. He was also a former sponsor of the hemp pilot program in the 2015 Farm Bill.

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol or CBD was originally discovered in 1940. CBD is one of the most abundantly occurring cannabinoids found in hemp. CBD Products like tinctures, gummies, topical preparations, and more have exploded in popularity in the market place as ways to use CBD.

Unlike its well-known counterpart, THC, CBD does not have a psychoactive effect that people know as the “high” or intoxicating effect of marijuana. CBD has gained a reputation for such therapies as pain relief, anxiety relief, acne, and many other conditions it shows promise for, without the intoxicating effect of THC.

Veterans

Several veterans spoke with American Military News to give their experiences, here are some of their experiences:

U.S. Army veteran Mike Stedman

A friend recommended CBD oil to U.S. Army veteran Mike Stedman who was taking anti-depressant and anti-anxiety pills for PTSD after leaving the military in March 2017.

“I tried and it said ‘wow, it’s actually really good,'”

“When I wasn’t taking it, I had really bad anxiety and was constantly on the alert. I’d go out to public places and it was too much,” Stedman explained.

“I started taking it, and everything calmed down. I’m more tolerable in public places. I love flying again. I used to hate being in planes with other people,” he said.

“The good thing about CBD is, it doesn’t get you high or anything. You have THC and CBD [from hemp] – there are two compounds. THC gets you high, but CBD is what helps you relax and takes your nerves away, makes you calm,” Stedman explained.

Plus, you don’t get addicted to CBD oil, he pointed out.

“I think it would be a really good opportunity for veterans,” Stedman said. “I think [having easier access to CBD oil] would have a really great impact, especially with easing the tensions with the VA. It would be easier to get. What if they can’t get pills or medicine they’re prescribed at the time? They can just get CBD as an alternative.”

U.S. Army Veteran Tom Coffe

Tom Coffe, a U.S. Army veteran started using CBD oil as part of a clinical trial.

“It just makes your day better. It takes all that bullsh*t that clutters up your brain and it compartmentalizes it for you,”.

“It’s not a cure-all. It’s not magic, it’s not going to make you go from being a lunatic to … normal. But it does help. It helps quell the need for urgency, the desire for chaos, the ridiculousness at all times,” he explained.

Coffe, 37, started taking CBD to help with PTSD after serving in the Army for nearly six years.

“The VA wants to shove pills down your throat. You go in and talk to them for 15 minutes, and you get three different types of medicines that alter your brain functions and have bad side effects. CBD doesn’t do that,” he pointed out.

“I think it would help a lot of vets. There’s a lot of guys out there who are trying to make things work in their life. I think CBD oil is a step in the right direction,” Coffe said.

“There are people who are addicted to pain killers like oxycontin, but they’re not ‘drug addicts’ because they got it from a doctor,” Coffe pointed out while explaining how people who use CBD are often mislabeled as “hippy potheads.”

“It’d be nice if it became a mainstream thing,” he added. 

U.S. Navy Veteran Natalie Anne Bilski

Natalie, a disabled combat veteran who has PTSD served in the U.S. Navy for six years, including three deployments, and was honorably discharged in 2011. She first Took CBD after being prescribed other medications that had ill side effects.

“You don’t feel anything, no magical change in attitude or internal feelings – at first,” “The changes are more noticed as after thoughts or random in the moments where you question why you’re suddenly feeling so good.”

“I think it took me a couple days before I noticed,” she continued. “I noticeably felt less pain in my joints and was able to get up and move around a lot more, not to mention the increased amount of energy I had, as well as motivation to do things.”

“I was also very noticeably happy, almost silly like my old self before my military service,” she pointed out. “This was a huge change for me, because PTSD has plagued me with deep anger, anxiety and paranoia issues, as well as pain throughout my entire body.”

Natalie experimented by going on and off CBD, and the positive effects of taking it became more prevalent.

“I believe legalizing hemp and its related products would definitely open more pathways in research and development, which could potentially lead to it being accepted as a viable treatment for the veteran community on multiple levels,” she said. “I have not experienced anything dangerous or ill side effects from CBD alone, and for it to be opened up to further development could really lead to some great discoveries and refining towards treatments for the mentally ill.”

“From my experience and in discussion with many of my disabled veteran friends, we truly believe this is a safe and healthy method for treatment for a multitude of ailments we face following our military service,” Bilski added.

Coalitions

U.S. Hemp Roundtable is a nonprofit group that advocates in the movement to legalize hemp in the U.S. Hemp Roundtable launched in early 2017 is made up of more than 60 firms and companies from the hemp industry, and grassroots organizations in the hemp realm. Originally launched in 2014 in Kentucky in order to support the first Farm Bill, it has since rebranded as the fight to legalize hemp went federal.

According to their website, “Our goal is to secure passage of bi-partisan legislation in the U.S. Congress that would establish hemp as an agricultural commodity, and permanently remove it from regulation as a controlled substance.”

“We’ve been so lucky to have Senator McConnell as our champion,” Miller said. “He has guaranteed [the pending Farm Bill] will provide the hemp provision. You can’t do better than that.”

The bill successfully passed in December of 2018, but U.S Hemp Roundtable is prepared for any upcoming legal battles. According to Miller.

“There’s concern that the FDA might try to restrict products, especially hemp-derived CBD oil,”

Farm Bill

The bill was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Trump in December 2018.

“This legislation will fulfill our core responsibilities to America’s producers. It will also make new investments in rural communities, such as expanding broadband access and providing ongoing support in the fight against opioid abuse and substance addiction. And it will empower producers to fully explore growing markets – both here at home and around the world,” McConnell has said.

“It’s no secret I’m particularly excited about the parts of the Senate-passed bill that concern industrial hemp,” he pointed out. “I believe that industrial hemp deserves a comeback, and I think the confusion with its more controversial cousin has largely been eliminated […].”

“American consumers have been buying hemp products for decades. The crop’s proven its usefulness. It’s past time that we build on the work we began with the pilot program in the 2014 Farm Bill and unleash farmers in Kentucky and across the country to grow it right here at home – with proper oversight – so they can capitalize on this multi-billion dollar market,” McConnell added.


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