Should Soldiers Use Cannabis In Combat?

There is a new defense bill on the table calling for soldiers on active duty to be allowed the use of experimental medications, including medical marijuana, while in the trenches of battle.  a report from Politico suggests that the measure has intentions to, "reduce the number of deaths or the severity of harm to members of the armed forces… caused by a risk or agent of war.”

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Measure HR 2810 would give the secretary of defense the power to grant military service members working outside the United States the freedom to use drugs that have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Congress, however, is finding it difficult to find the appropriate approach for the matter. The Pentagon is convinced that providing sick or injured service members with access to any medication they might need during active duty could help bring more men and women home safely.  However,  Congress feels it necessary to keep the determination of safe and effective drugs in the power and hands of the FDA.

Despite the reservations on Capitol Hill, the Department of Defense insists on asking for Congress to give the military absolute say in declaring “emergency uses for medical products to reduce deaths and severity of injuries caused by agents of war.”  “Traditional pathways to [FDA] approval and licensure of critical medical products for battlefield use are too slow to allow for rapid insertion and use of these products on the battlefield,” according to the conference report. “This provision could lead to even higher survival rates from severe battlefield wounds suffered by service members.”

Psychiatrist Judith Broder, M. D., founder of the Soldiers Project, which works with service members dealing with mental illness, told Men’s Health, “The military is under great pressure to have enough people ready for combat,” back in 2009.  And clearly, the Pentagon has had enough of waiting on the FDA to approve drugs that might benefit its soldiers.  And the debate is nowhere near over.