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As we remember those who served our nation this Veterans Day we should recommit ourselves to providing for the healthcare needs of America’s veterans.

I am personally doing this by supporting New Approach Montana’s effort to legalize, regulate, and tax adult use marijuana in Montana. My #1 reason to support this change is that marijuana treatment is still out of reach for many veterans in Montana who use the VA for healthcare, and I know from personal experience that marijuana is an effective alternative to addictive opioids.

Today, under Montana’s medical marijuana programs, you must have your doctor sign a form authorizing your participation in the program. Well, guess what? VA doctors can’t prescribe medical marijuana for PTSD or anything else, even if they want to, and they can’t sign your authorization without losing their jobs or worse. Many vets have no other physician to sign the marijuana authorization form and are resigned to take their chances with opioids or ineffectually self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs.

This is a ridiculous situation. Prohibition to marijuana has been a massive waste of time and resources. Let’s not let this 100-year-old prohibition continue to cause harm to our citizens and veterans. Evidence and common-sense show that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Marijuana has been proven to offer a great alternative to opioids and heavy pharmaceuticals for many. It’s time to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana so vets can finally have the access we know they need. While we are at it how about we set aside some of the new marijuana tax revenue to help veterans. Some property tax relief for vets would be nice!

Adult-use legalization of marijuana in Montana will make it so that no veteran is left out of the treatment they deserve. Removing the stigma associated with marijuana use is a necessary step in opening availability to veterans. More powerful still would be a federal reclassification of marijuana, but until the feds act, we must continue to fight the battle for veterans’ access to marijuana in the states.

Montana has more veterans than most states, we also have one of the highest suicide rates in the US. For these and many other reasons, I support putting adult-use marijuana on the ballot in 2020 so Montana can join the growing list of states that have said no to prohibition and the harm it brings our veterans.

I will continue to honor our veterans on this important day of remembrance as I hope you will; and I will continue to support New Approach Montana’s 2020 efforts for full adult-use legalization of marijuana, and you should support this change too, for the veteran you know.

Tim Caplis

Helena

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