Cannabidiol (CBD), known as the second most important chemical in the cannabis plant, is nonpsychoactive and has many positive benefits for the body. Over the past fourty years, preclinical trials have discovered that it can be used in the following ways:
- as a painkiller
- as a neuroprotectant
- as an anti-inflammatory
- as an antioxidant
- an antidepressant
- to relieve anxiety
- as an anti-psychotic
- as an anti-cancer agent
When Thomas Brennan was medically retired from the Marine Corps due to migraines and depression, he asked for help from the Department of Veterans Affairs (the V.A).
Initially, the medication he received (anti-depressants, amphetamines, mood stabilisers and sedatives) appeared to do some good - but as time went on, Thomas found that prescribed medication didn't have its desired effect, and doctors only encouraged he take more pills.
One thing that did help was marijuana. After smoking a joint, Brennan awoke feeling energised, having slept for 10 hours straight rather than his usual 5-6 hours - “I didn't have nightmares or remember tossing or turning through the night, as I usually did. I was, as Kat Williams put it, 'hungry, happy, sleepy' ”.
With the help of his psychiatrist, Brennan “traded his pill bottles for pipes and papers” and gradually saw improvements in his physical and mental health.
The main barrier facing Brennan was that his new found drug also happened to be illegal. Marijuana is illegal in 21 states in the USA, including the state he resides in (North Carolina), with punishments for those found in possession including imprisonment and loss of child custody.
Marijuana has been shown to have benefits for over 300,000 veterans, yet a psychiatrist in the article, Dr Frank Ochberg, argues that veterans are at a disadvantage because cannabis is not allowed as a treatment option.
More recently, the V.A. has aimed to increase the promotion of alternative therapies, such as mindfulness and exercise. The V.A. secretary, Dr. David Shulkin, has also shown his support for the assessment of new cannabis research, arguing that the patients could benefit from taking marijuana.
Despite this, the prescription of medical cannabis for veterans is still banned – including in those states where it has been legalised. For the author of the article, the benefits have proven invaluable – although he admits that “relief isn't immediate”, it's also the one thing that “takes the sharpest edges” off his symptoms.
Due to cannabis, he is “more hopeful, less woeful”, has a better relationship with his wife, and is gradually growing closer to his daughter. Regardless of the above, he still worries he'll be arrested for posession of an illegal drug, and argues for regulated cannabis to be made available as a treatment option. To find out more about Brennan's experience, you can see the full article here.