Bryan veteran says Texas medicinal marijuana bill could help treat PTSD

Larry Johnson fought in Vietnam. He says marijuana could be a good option to help those with PTSD.
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 10:19 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Governor Greg Abbott announced on social media Thursday that he intends to sign HB 1535, which expands the compassionate use of medicinal marijuana to those with cancer and PTSD.

The bill is currently on the governor’s desk, awaiting his signature. Once it becomes law, it will need to be prescribed by a doctor.

Texas A&M Veterans Affairs VITAL Coordinator Fred Washington says while the national VA does not recognize marijuana as a treatment yet, he believes having an option for veterans is important.

“With PTSD, it affects people differently, and naturally the response we need to have to it to each individual should be a little bit individualized. So options are good,” said Washington.

Larry Johnson is a Vietnam veteran who served as a Marine. He says when he came home from the war, he dove right into work.

“To me, I guess to keep my mind off the war, I was just a workaholic,” said Johnson.

Johnson was diagnosed with PTSD, and lived with it for 30 years before talking to someone about it. He says it has been very helpful to talk with others in group counseling. Johnson says he was prescribed pills at one point to help with his PTSD, and it gave him nightmares. So, having another option is important, he said.

“This bill that the governor is going to sign, I think it can be a big game changer as long as everyone keeps an eye on it and how it is administered,” said Johnson. “I think it can save lives.”

Johnson says he has seen too many of his veteran friends die by suicide, and wants there to be more treatment options to keep that from happening. According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the suicide rate of female veterans is 11.2 out of 100,000. For men, it is 33.4 out of 100,000.

“Do I think I will use it? I don’t know,” said Johnson. “It was abused and misused a lot in Vietnam. Cost some guys their lives, so I have never been a big fan of it. But, with the suicide rate the way it is with veterans, I think we need to try something.”

Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

What to Do

  • Do not leave the person alone
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Take the person to an emergency room, or seek help from a medical or mental health professional

Who Can Help

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • A free, 24/7 confidential service that can provide people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, or those around them, with support, information, and local resources.
  • The Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1
  • The Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line connect veterans and service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.
  • Crisis Text Line: 741-741
  • This free text-message service provides 24/7 support to those in crisis. Text 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor right away.

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