Since 1995, Patients Out of Time, a patient-advocacy organization dedicated to educating public health professionals and the public about medical marijuana, has been gathering the best cannabis researchers and clinicians from around the world. The organization allows them to speak about their astonishing discoveries of cannabis receptors in all human organs: the endocannabinoid system; the marvelous healing compounds such as THC and CBD found in the plant; the cancer fighting properties; its capacity to deaden pain and calm spasticity; its anti-emetic properties; and the emotional peace that cannabis is able to provide to the ill.

Patients are at the forefront of the plot to free the cannabis plant from those who seek to ban it from the Earth. Their embrace of cannabis medicine sustains the battle and has led to legal medical cannabis in 18 states and Washington D.C. Others credit the patients’ best friend – the nurse – with the leadership role in the rediscovery of the plant and its magical, clinical benefits it provides to humans. It is the American Nurses Association (ANA), representing the most revered profession – nurses – that has charged all US nurses to become educated about the therapeutic, nutritional and clinical uses of cannabis.

Honest therapeutic information about cannabis has been around now for at least 20 years, the timeframe in which the discovery of cannabis receptors became known. However, the US medical community during the past two decades has abdicated its responsibility concerning clinical cannabis use. The lack of AMA leadership in this controversy is alarming. No medical school or nursing school in the US offers a course on medicinal cannabis uses, its nutritional value, its clinical potential and the interface that occurs between cannabis plant compounds and our endocannabinoid system.

In July 2010, a directive (VHA 2010-035) was issued by Robert A. Petzel, MD, head of the Veterans Health Administration, that clearly stated cannabis is a medicine. Of course, that constitutes a federal conundrum. The largest health care system in the US, a federal agency run by medical professionals, says cannabis is medicine – in writing. But the Drug Czar, a cop, says cannabis is poison.

This news made the first page of the New York Times! All VA facilities began treating vets, who used cannabis legally under state law, without consequences or retribution. Suicides dropped!

Where are the VA doctors in this issue? Is it medicine or not? If it's medicine for Sgt. Black in California where medical cannabis is legal, why isn't it medicine for Sgt. White in Nebraska, where draconian cannabis laws can land a vet in jail for medicating?

Why is the AMA mute? Why are the media such shills for the national indecency perpetrated by our leaders? Unethical medical practice is OK? It’s acceptable that medicine is distributed based on where the vet lives, not on the vet’s wounds?

This isn’t news? Where are all those young and old journalists that used to give a damn about the world they reported on?

Al Byrne, LCDR, SC, USN (Ret.)
Al Byrne, LCDR, SC, USN (Ret.)

How did the doctors allow cops and lawyers to steal their work? When did we start issuing lawyers medical and nursing degrees? When did the law change as to who gets to make medical judgments? Why does law enforcement sit at a table discussing what type of symptom cannabis can be used for as though some county sheriff is medically enlightened?

The VFW, of which I am a member, has taken no position on veterans and cannabis. I’m a member of the American Legion and have written the Legion leadership multiple times requesting the organization’s aid. Never has any staffer ever responded. (They did send a request for dues though.)

But don’t be too concerned, dear readers. Veterans Day is behind us. Your plastic yellow ribbon will survive until next year. Virginia’s governor, an Army vet, will ignore the 800,000 vets in his state that are denied cannabis as medicine. He wants to be the President. Many other governors will also consider their own interests first. Our representatives and thousands of political staffers will find other more meaningful tasks to attend to.

They’ll continue to ignore the unethical care that our veterans receive. But they’ll banter about the “fiscal cliff” and hemlines and the demise of Twinkies. But the death of the veteran – the tortured soul who has taken his own life as you’ve read my essay – means nothing. Not to the AMA, not to the media, not to the VA.

What about you?

Al Byrne, LCDR, SC, USN (Ret.), is co-founder and board member of for Patients Out of Time. Visit or