As more and more states either decriminalize or legalize marijuana, public opinion is shifting on the issue. The push for legal cannabis is coming from a source many people have a hard time saying no to as well: Veterans.
In 33 states and the District of Columbia, medical marijuana is now perfectly legal. Further, recreational use of the plant is already legal in 10 states. Cannabis use is no longer the social taboo that it once was, and legalization is expanding quickly. Iraq war veterans like Terry Head of Texas are leading the way.
Head leads a group called Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana. Along with other veterans, he spoke publicly in favor of Texas House Bill 1365, which would make the use of cannabis for medical purposes legal in the state of Texas.
While the usual states that one would expect to be on the progressive forefront of this issue have legalized the drug, more conservative areas’ efforts are being aided by veterans like Head. Medical marijuana is now legal in Oklahoma, Utah, Missouri, and West Virginia. These are all traditionally right-wing states that one would think would be resistant to the idea of legalization.
The benefits of legalized cannabis are numerous. The regulation and taxation of cannabis use means more tax money for the states. Moreover, as far as veterans are concerned, it is an alternative to dangerous opioids for the treatment of chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other chronic ailments that can be a result of wartime deployments. If for no other reason, the legalization of marijuana will help curb America’s out of control opioid crisis, rather than creating new addicts.
In short, veterans like Terry Head are helping to open hearts and minds on the issue of legalized cannabis by sharing their very personal stories, and passionately leading the fight. Just as they fought for our freedoms abroad, perhaps it is time for us to fight for their freedom to treat their wartime ailments here at home.
Shannon Barber is a progressive queer feminist and budding political scientist. She is passionate about issues of social justice, including but not limited to racial equality, criminal justice reform, pro-Black politics, and LGBTQ equality. She hopes to change the world, one mind at a time.