A couple dozen servicemen and women marched to the White House this Veterans Day and dumped a large box of empty pill containers, calling on the president and other federal officials to make medical marijuana accessible to veterans.
"Here's what the over-medication of our veterans looks like," they said as they spilled the canisters onto the floor. "We don't want it."
The veterans and protesters — affiliated with various veteran and marijuana advocacy organizations — argued that Veterans Affairs hospitals are over-medicating veterans, prescribing them a large number of psychoactive medications to treat PTSD. They marched from McPherson Square to the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters, then to the White House, some smoking joints along the way, which is illegal in D.C.
VA health-care providers can't talk to their patients about medical marijuana options, even in states where there are legal medical marijuana programs. A bill in Congress, the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, would allow doctors to provide recommendations about participating in such state programs.
"There's something seriously wrong going on. It's disgusting," said Jose Martinez, 27, a triple amputee who stepped on a bomb while serving in Afghanistan in 2012. Martinez, who lives in California and works with the Weed for Warriors Project, said he was prescribed a cocktail of pills and had a debilitating pain pill addiction.
He now uses marijuana and says he no longer takes those prescribed pills.