By: Richard Ojeda
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently rescinded the Cole Memo that protects states who have legalized cannabis and it is my fear that if Congress does not pass a budget, the Rohrabacher amendment that protects medical cannabis patients will be targeted as well.
Make no mistake about it, Jeff Sessions will gladly target medical marijuana patients with his desire to fight an imaginary war on cannabis.
“Of course, we know the answer to this hypocrisy: politicians who oppose cannabis are bought and paid for by big tobacco and pharma lobbyists, regardless of what their campaign slogans claim.”
The hypocrisy of this decision and the Republican party is blatant. The GOP is constantly talking about jobs, yet is against this billion dollar job creator. The GOP is constantly saying that they want to increase business opportunities, yet they stand in the way of this industry that has helped build states like Colorado. The GOP is always talking about how they support veterans but are adamantly against something so many of us support. The GOP always speaks about law enforcement going after criminals and touts states rights as their number one reason for opposing any federal oversight, yet all of their previous positions now make little sense in light of the recent decisions by Jeff sessions.
Of course, we know the answer to this hypocrisy: politicians who oppose cannabis are bought and paid for by big tobacco and pharma lobbyists, regardless of what their campaign slogans claim.
When I started writing this article, we requested fellow veterans that use medical marijuana for PTSD and other ailments reach out to us to discuss their issues and how medical marijuana has made their lives easier. But none wanted to be named in a national op-ed, and with good reason. Because it would put a target on their backs and their businesses by the federal government. We learned that many veterans are using marijuana to treat PTSD in states that allow it and would love to move to a place like my home state of West Virginia but with recent statements by our district attorney and Jeff Sessions allowing it to happen, they’ve forever put West Virginia off their list. These are not extras out of a Cheech and Chong movie, these are combat tested veterans that are now business leaders, educators, and lawyers. The stigma associated with medical marijuana use is a result of propaganda built on bad policy and enforced by attorney generals that are in bed with big pharma.
As it stands, veterans cannot be prescribed medical marijuana and the VA cannot even study the effects because of antiquated federal laws. One thing politicians love to do is parade veterans before a camera and fall all over themselves to show which candidate is more pro-veteran than the other. But then these so called pro-veteran types like Jeff Sessions and others deny veterans access to medicine that makes their lives livable. Aside from the economic benefits, this highlights all of the hypocrisy and callous treatment of veterans by rich lobbyists and establishment politicians who only use veterans during their campaign season. Once in office, they only use us for photo ops and march in our parades, yet deny our brothers and sisters the care they need. It’s 2018, it’s time to wake up and start listening to medical professionals and evidence based science regarding medical marijuana.
In West Virginia, we have a very high veterans per capita ratio, more than many other states. I spent 24 years in the U.S. Army with four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. When I first learned about the benefits of medical cannabis, I immediately thought of my brothers and sisters that struggled everyday with PTSD. I was told medical cannabis would never see a committee. I was told that big pharma didn’t like my bill. But we pressed on.
Now, Jeff Sessions wants to attack an industry that not only builds and expands communities but gives relief to those same brothers and sisters. If it is a fight Jeff Sessions wants, that is a fight I will gladly give him.
From the moment I decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in West Virginia, I knew medical cannabis would be an issue on my platform and since then, there are only a few of us who have made it a front and center issue. This means that there are not nearly enough politicians in Washington who are willing to fight for medical cannabis patients across the United States. That is why I intend to go to Congress, support the decriminalization of marijuana, and make sure veterans get protected from an overreaching federal government that tells them to treat PTSD, not with medical marijuana but with the latest pharmaceutical drug the companies are pushing at the VA clinics.
“Now, Jeff Sessions wants to attack an industry that not only builds and expands communities but gives relief to those same brothers and sisters. If it is a fight Jeff Sessions wants, that is a fight I will gladly give him.”
There is little reason to oppose a decriminalization bill in this day and age. We know for a fact that it helps veterans with PTSD, that it creates jobs, relieves over burdened police officers, and takes power back from drug dealers and puts it in the hands of legitimate entrepreneurs. While there is much work to be done regarding our African American brothers and sisters that were caught in the crossfire of the drug wars, I cannot see a single reason not to pass a bill federally legalizing medical marijuana other than preventing competition to pharmaceutical companies and tobacco companies. I know my GOP colleagues are not as anti-veteran as this, and it’s time they stood up and worked with Democrats and pass sensible marijuana legislation. Our veterans deserve no less than full access to the best and least harmful medical care on the planet, and if I’m elected to Congress, I’ll make sure our voices are heard on the hill.
Retired U.S. Army Major Richard Ojeda II is a West Virginian veteran, educator, as well as current state Senator representing portions of Logan, Boone, Lincoln and parts of Wayne and Mingo Counties. Ojeda sponsored the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, which was signed into law by Governor Justice on April 19th 2017. Ojeda is running for West Virginia’s 3rd congressional district vacated by Republican Evan Jenkins.
Richard Ojeda is a retired member of the U.S. Army. Use of Richard Ojeda’s rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.