The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Friday launched a new TV ad that features a local combat veteran making an emotional plea on behalf of veterans and others who experience difficulty accessing medical marijuana.
The ad begins with images of Marine Corps veteran Bruce Laird, who enlisted in 1999 and was honorably discharged in 2007. He completed three separate combat tours in Iraq and was part of the initial invasion force at the beginning of the war. Laird suffered a traumatic brain injury during a training mission and was hospitalized for months in Okinawa.
“They determined I had PTSD, and I found myself in the closet with a shotgun in my mouth,” Laird says, as text on the screen notes that VA doctors are prohibited from recommending medical marijuana.“That’s when my wife really took the stand of no more of these medications,” he says, as the ad displays a list of medications VA doctors prescribed him instead. “We have to find a better way. I turned to marijuana and it saved me. That’s why I support Prop. 205.”
“Living with Bruce, I suffered through the time he spent on prescription drugs,” said his wife, Nichole Simpson. “They did not help at all. In fact, they made his condition worse. It is not an exaggeration to say that marijuana saved his life and our family.
“I strongly believe that veterans and other individuals who are suffering should have immediate access to marijuana,” she said. “They should not be forced to spend time on pharmaceuticals or jump through hoops to qualify for a program. Prop. 205 will improve the lives of thousands of Arizonans.”
A federal directive from the Veterans Health Administration prohibits VA physicians from recommending medical marijuana, even in states that have made it legal.
“Arizona’s medical marijuana system is working for thousands of patients, but it is not helping everyone,” said Dr. Jeffrey Singer, a general surgeon who has been practicing medicine in Phoenix for 40 years. “There are many patients who do not have a qualifying condition under the law and others who cannot afford a medical certification.
“Perhaps most critically,” Singer said, “there are veterans who cannot obtain a medical marijuana recommendation because VA doctors are prohibited from issuing them. We need to pass Prop. 205 so that all patients in need have access to marijuana.”
Arizona’s medical marijuana law does not cover patients suffering from several medical conditions that are covered by other states’ medical marijuana laws, including Parkinson’s disease, lupus, muscular dystrophy, and traumatic brain injury.