All posts by Jordan Linley

Baby steps for legalizing marijuana

Texas vets call for legal medical marijuana, end to painkiller dependence

Veterans Day march in rally kicks off Operation Trapped, push to legalize medical pot in Texas in 2017

United States military veterans rallied at a parade in Texas on Wednesday for the right to treat their war wounds, both physical and psychological, with medical marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law and is strictly limited in Texas.

The Veterans Day protest came a day after the U.S. Senate approved a measure allowing federal Veterans Affairs doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in the District of Columbia and the 23 states that have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis.

Texas allows the use of only a nonpsychoactive marijuana oil product for the treatment of severe seizures. The veterans, affiliated with pro-legalization group Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy (TRMP), want much wider legalization, saying it could help veterans with long-term pain and psychological disorders. Texas has 1.7 million veterans, the second most number in the country, after California.

Dozens of former service members — from the Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy — marched to press their call for change in Austin’s Veteran’s Day parade Wednesday. They then gathered at the Vietnam War memorial near the statehouse to announce the launch of Operation Trapped, a campaign to raise awareness of veterans’ hope for access to medical marijuana, both edible and smokable.


Texas veterans are calling on their state to legalize medical marijuana, saying they feel trapped by a reliance on traditional painkillers, which can be addictive and deadly. (Image: “Trapped” by Malachi Muncy for TRMP)

“We feel trapped by pharmaceutical drugs, and we want access to medical marijuana instead of addictive painkillers and psychotropic medication,” said TRMP spokesman Dave Bass, 59, a retired Army major and native Texan who served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005.

For its awareness campaign, Operation Trapped seeks to collect from veterans 1,000 pill bottles that once contained painkillers, antidepressants or mood stabilizers — each containing a slip of paper with the veteran’s name, rank and dates of service. TRMP plans to then put toy soldiers in the bottles and present them to lawmakers at the start of the Texas state legislature’s next session, starting in January 2017. The bottles are meant to show how many veterans feel trapped by the treatment options available to them in their state.

“We don’t want to be treated as criminals,” Bass said. “We have jobs, we pay taxes, some of us go to universities on the GI Bill, yet Texas makes us into criminals because we choose to use medical cannabis.”

A Texas medical marijuana bill introduced this year failed in May in the state’s House Public Health Committee, despite hours of testimony from people who said marijuana has helped alleviate their illnesses.

The Texas push comes amid nationwide changes in marijuana laws, with Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Washington, D.C., legalizing recreational possession over the last two years. In New York, veterans started a billboard campaign on Tuesday to have the plant approved for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder when medical marijuana dispensaries open in 2016.

Research has shown that medical marijuana can help soothe the side effects of cancer treatment and relieve pain. The National Institutes of Health recognizes several uses for marijuana and its extracts, and another study by the agency said marijuana shows promise in treating PTSD.

Bass said many veterans in Texas use medical marijuana even though it’s illegal. Smoking or eating it helps alleviate chronic pain caused by injuries suffered in battle, he said, adding that it can also help fight the recurring nightmares some veterans endure.

The Department of Veterans Affairs expresses skepticism about the usefulness of marijuana to treat PTSD and said that in 2014 about 40,000 veterans showed symptoms of what it called cannabis use disorder, which it said can involve dependence on the drug.

Bass said that many troops used marijuana in Iraq and Afghanistan to help manage the stress of combat. “Soldiers would use hashish to try to relax between battles and combat operations because it would relax them and help them get some sleep,” he said. “Our medical doctors only gave us Ambien to sleep and narcotic pain medication. You wouldn’t believe the number of pills I came home with.”

He added that service members didn’t tell doctors about smoking cannabis, fearing disciplinary action.

Unlike painkillers and antidepressants, which can be used to commit suicide and have been linked to overdoses, cannabis has never been known to cause a fatal overdose. The VA, citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it has found that veterans suffer almost twice the rate of fatal painkiller overdoses than nonvets. And getting those medications has become harder, after new Drug Enforcement Agency rule in 2014 restricted prescriptions in an effort to curb painkiller addiction, The Washington Post reported.

Bass said medical marijuana has helped him far more than the narcotic painkillers and psychopharmacological drugs like VA doctors prescribe. Some of these pills come with severe side effects, he said.

“I was having terrible nightmares” after returning from Iraq, he said. “I had angry outbursts, paranoia. I was very isolated. I didn’t want to be out with people. And then I took the psychopharmacological medication, and I felt nonfunctional. I felt like a zombie. I had suicidal ideation. Then when I switched to Prozac, it caused impotence. When I started using medical-grade cannabis, I didn’t have nightmares anymore. I wasn’t paranoid. I felt very comfortable. I felt like a normal person.”

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Group of Texas veterans call for comprehensive medical marijuana program

A group of Texas veterans are high on the prospect of medical marijuana in Texas.

They’re using this Veterans Day to launch ‘Operation Trapped.’ They believe pot is better than prescriptions.

“This is death waiting at your door,” said Clif Deuvall. Signaling to the empty bottles just beneath him, Vietnam War veteran Clif Deuvall described how prescription pills nearly cost him his life — and how medical marijuana brought him back from the brink.

On their day of thanks a group of veterans used their spotlight to call for a change to medical marijuana laws in Texas. “When people take pills sometimes they just zombie out and their whole psyche is totally off,” said Christopher Sum.


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Texas Vets Gather at State Capitol on Veterans Day to Push for Medical Pot



“This Veterans Day, Texas vets will announce the launch of Operation Trapped, a one-year project to collect a single-used prescription bottle from every state veteran who wants safer alternatives to harmful and addictive prescription drugs.

The project, backed by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, seeks to build support for legislation allowing access to medical marijuana for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic pain, and other service-related conditions.

“As veterans, we have made many sacrifices to protect and serve our country,” said David Bass, a veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom II, told The Daily Chronic.

In a related development on the eve of Veteran’s Day 2015, the Senate passed an amendment that includes allowing Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states where it is legal.

Texas, however, is not one of those states.”



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Veterans gather at Capitol asking for legal medical marijuana



“Military veterans from across the state gathered at the state capitol for a cause important to veterans coming home with health issues.

The group of veterans are asking for legal access to medical marijuana. They are launching “Operation Trapped,” supported by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy.

Proponents of the group say it’s a safer alternative to prescription drugs for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other health issues. Other medical issues treated by medical marijuana for veterans includes: traumatic brain disorder (TBI), and chronic pain.”

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Texas veterans rally for medical marijuana to treat PTSD



Mark Wiggins, KVUE5:48 p.m. CST November 11, 2015

“A group of Texas veterans is asking state lawmakers to let them use medical marijuana to treat conditions such as pain and PTSD.

The conditions are normally treated with prescription drugs, which Bass said carry side effects at times as debilitating and life-threatening as the ailments they’re meant to address. A U.S. Army veteran, Bass served from 1985 to 2006 and deployed overseas for Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.”


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Texas Veterans Rally at State Capitol for Medical Marijuana Reform

The San Antonio Current

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 2:15 pm.


Veterans from the Air Force, Army and Navy used the day that honors their service to rally in Austin, urging state officials to take a step toward creating a medical marijuana program that will allow treatment with cannabis for “service-related conditions,” like PTSD.

Calling the action ‘Operation Trapped,’ which is backed by the Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy coalition, is the kick-off for a year-long awareness campaign about veterans who want to ditch the prescription pills in favor of medical marijuana.

Advocates say cannabis can be used to treat “post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic pain, and other service-related conditions.”

“Veterans have sacrificed greatly to serve and protect our nation,” David Bass, of Killeen, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom II, says in a press release. “It’s time to serve and protect the many soldiers who have returned home with debilitating conditions that would benefit greatly from medical marijuana. The goal of this campaign is to give those veterans a voice and get Texas legislators to listen.”

The activists are asking Texas veterans supportive of medical marijuana to send empty prescription pill bottles to Texas NORML with the line “ATTN: Operation trapped” at 3571 Far West Blvd., #205, Austin, TX, 78731.

Texas NORML will place a toy soldier in each bottle, which represents all the soldiers whose suffering could be eased by medical marijuana. The organization will collect the pill bottles throughout the year and present them next Veterans Day.

Clif Deuvall, of Waco, a U.S. Air Force veteran who played a role in Operation Frequent Wind — the final evacuation of Americans from Saigon at the close of the Vietnam War — says medical marijuana is more effective and safer than most prescription drugs.

“It can ease the symptoms of PTSD and TBI and relieve chronic pain associated with service-related injuries,” Deuvall says in a press release.

While Texas passed a medical marijuana bill in May, which Governor Greg Abbott signed, surprisingly, critics have said the new legislation falls far short as it is “extremely unlikely” to relieve patients who have intractable seizure conditions because — aside from only having minimal amounts of THC — doctors are only allowed to ‘prescribe’ rather than ‘recommend.’

This is important because recommendations are protected under the First Amendment whereas a doctor who prescribed medical marijuana could lose their license or get in trouble with the law. In 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana, doctors ‘recommend’ or ‘certify’ patients rather than prescribe.

“The medical marijuana law that passed earlier this year is not going to help veterans and others who are suffering from these conditions,” Kate Morgan, of Lake Dallas, a U.S. Navy veteran, says in a press release. “The legislature needs to take action and ensure veterans have safe and legal access to whatever medical treatment works best for them.”

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Join State Rep Moody for a Live Town Hall hosted by TCJC

TCJC Logo PMS 7692 - small

Join Texas State Represenarive Joe Moody for a Live Town Hall hosted by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition on November 10, 2015

Its time for Texas to reduce harsh penalties for minor offenses like marijuana possession and graffiti

Reduce Arrests for Marijuana Possession

Marijuana possession ranks among the most common causes of arrest in Texas, costing counties millions of dollars in jail expenses and payments to attorneys for the indigent. In 2014 alone, nearly 70,000 people in Texas were arrested for marijuana possession. All of these individuals are booked into jail, and those who cannot make bail may stay there until their case is resolved. Polls say a majority of Texans endorse eliminating penalties for low-level marijuana possession entirely, especially for medicinal purposes. It’s time to change Texas’ approach to marijuana possession. Taxpayers are spending too much money locking people up, and the police should be using their limited resources to combat serious offenses in our communities.

Reduce Graffiti Penalties and Provide Property Owners

The reaction to ongoing graffiti in the community may be to penalize graffitists more harshly. But many Texas cities are seemingly seeing no decrease in graffiti from such an approach. What’s worse, punitive approaches to graffiti come with high price tags, draining city budgets and saddling graffitists with criminal convictions that pose lifelong obstacles, including limited employment and housing opportunities. Especially in regard to youth, graffitists should be allowed to participate in pretrial diversion programs, requiring community service and victim restitution, which will provide for property owner relief, as well as long-term reductions in recidivism and its associated costs. 

Marijuana is literally the least of the nation’s drug worries, the police have announced

By Christopher Ingraham

Cops say they’re really not worried about your back yard marijuana plant. But they’ll still arrest you for it. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, File)

America’s cops overwhelmingly do not see marijuana as a major threat to their communities, according to results of a survey released this week as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s “2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary.”

The DEA asked a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 law enforcement agencies what they saw as their biggest drug threats. Marijuana came in at the bottom of the list, named by only 6 percent of survey respondents. The share of law enforcement agencies naming pot has been declining steadily since the mid-2000s, even as states have moved to legalize medical and recreational marijuana during that time period.

By contrast, nearly three quarters of police departments named heroin and meth as their top drug threats this year. The perceived threat of heroin has more than quadrupled since 2007, according to the survey. And after rising sharply from 2007 to 2013, the threat posed by prescription painkillers has subsided considerably in the past two years.

The findings indicate a statement by law enforcement of a fact that drug policy experts and researchers have known for a long time: compared to other recreational substances, including alcohol, marijuana doesn’t cause that much harm. It’s probably even safer than many people think. And whether you’re worried about potential harms to individuals or to communities, marijuana is very low on the list of recreational substances.

The state and local police also say that marijuana is not a big driver of crime. Only 6 percent said that marijuana was the most serious driver of violent crime in their communities in 2015, and 5 percent said it was the biggest contributor to property crime. This contradicts arguments made by some high-ranking law enforcement officers recently that marijuana is somehow driving an increase in murders this year.

Despite this shift in thinking, arrests for marijuana possession continue unabated. Cops keep arresting people for marijuana possession. This might be a simple question of low-hanging fruit: Marijuana is by far the most widely used illegal drug, and more users means more potential arrestees. But these arrests have serious consequences for the people caught up in them, and they divert precious police time and resources away from more serious crimes, like rape and murder.

Beyond that, the Department of Justice has continued to aggressively prosecute marijuana cases even in places like California where some use of the plant is legal. This led to a federal judge giving a scathing rebuke to the department last month, accusing it of openly defying congressional efforts to put an end to these raids.

The DEA also continues to pump millions of dollars into its endless campaign to “eradicate” marijuana plants in the United States, funding expensive weeding operations that spend, in some cases, $60 or more to uproot a single plant.

The DEA’s latest drug threat assessment makes an implicit argument for smarter policing: If marijuana is of little concern while heroin and meth are a big worry, then devote less time and resources to the former and more to the latter. The report notes that over 46,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2013. What it doesn’t mention is that not a single one of those overdoses was caused by marijuana.