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-   -   Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military. (https://forum.dvdtalk.com/religion-politics-world-events/575051-medical-marijuana-no-no-military.html)

kvrdave 06-11-10 01:38 PM

Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
Despite the whimsy of the title, this is a really fooked up situation. Richelle is a friend of mine.

So that you can judge her guilt, here is a picture from the article.
<img src=http://media.oregonlive.com/pdxgreen/photo/richellegolden-9jpg-5f959f06d0fd3df8_large.jpg>


Spc. Richelle Golden arrived at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington state in February in a wheelchair, expecting to stay a few weeks and be medically retired. She immediately reported that she used marijuana to combat pain and nausea and produced her Oregon medical marijuana card.

But five months later, the Oregon Army National Guard soldier is still at Joint Base Lewis-McChord facing court-martial and squeezed between her home state, which allows medical marijuana, and the Army, which forbids it.

The case is playing out at the base where last month members of Congress accused the Army of providing second-class treatment to the Oregon's 41st Brigade returning from Iraq.

While Golden, 39, is not part of the 41st, she has been an Oregon Guard soldier for nine years, hired full time to work recruiting events and later to work for the recruiting commander in Salem.

In October 2008, her crippling joint pain was diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren's syndrome, incurable autoimmune diseases. By January 2009, she couldn't work. Within months, the Salem mother of four couldn't walk or bathe herself. She began chemotherapy to control her flare-up. But she vomited so much and required so much pain medicine that her doctor suggested she try medical marijuana.

Retired Col. Ray Meyer reassured Golden that she could use marijuana because she was never going to return to duty. He had filed her separation paperwork himself months earlier. After her Oregon Health & Science University oncologist wrote the prescription, Golden obtained a medical marijuana card on Jan. 15. Meyer registered as the official caregiver who would bring her marijuana.

"It was a legal prescription, by God," Meyer said, "and she thought she was out of the service."

A month later, Golden received active-duty orders to report to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Lewis-McChord for her medical discharge. She was one of 432 "warriors" assigned to the unit, one of 34 established after reports in 2007 detailing a lack of care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Any soldier who needs six months or more of complex medical care is assigned to one of these units and receives pay as they recover or rehabilitate. The average stay at Madigan is 280 days. About 60,000 soldiers have done this nationwide, with half returning to duty. The Warrior Training Units simplify and centralize care but also have been criticized as "warehouses of despair," according to an April investigation by The New York Times.


***
Golden's problems began almost immediately. Typically, those who self-identify drug use should enter an abuse program. Instead, Army records obtained from her family show that regular urinalysis was ordered. She tested positive for weeks. Golden says she quit using marijuana when she left Oregon, but the chemical stays in the body for weeks.

On March 22, she was given an Article 15 for wrongful marijuana use and was to be punished with a reduction to private, probation and restriction to barracks.

"I was in shock about what was happening," Golden said. "In my whole military career, I had never received a negative counseling statement or an Article 15. I was also told I could be going to go to federal prison for two years. I was terrified."

Golden asked for an open court-martial instead. She also repeatedly asked to return to Oregon in a community-based transition program that's available. She said she feels she's being driven into a dishonorable discharge that would cost her her military retirement, veterans disability benefits and her family's future. Since February, she has received 22 negative counseling statements from Warrior Transition staff.

"They're creating a paper trail," she said.

On May 17, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Kurt Schrader called for an investigation into possible Army discrimination against National Guard soldiers. Later that day, Golden said she was summoned to the Lewis-McChord military police offices, frisked, fingerprinted and told she was being charged with two felonies before being abruptly sent back to her room.

No charges were filed.

Last week, her former commander, Meyer, wrote the Oregon Guard that they need to bring her home.

"They have flagged her as a 'Drug Addict'" Meyer wrote. "I am certain that her Warrior Transition Battalion Command is promoting an agenda that is outside the scope of their Mission Statement and they have let arrogance and pride override regulation and common sense."

Madigan Army Medical Center Commander Col. Jerry Penner said in an e-mail Thursday that "Spc. Golden is receiving optimum coordinated medical care" and will remain at Lewis-McChord.

"Her assignment ... based on her complex medical issues is most appropriate. ... Unfortunately, Spc. Golden is a high-risk soldier for medical reasons who requires close supervision. Her supervisors must ensure her welfare and compliance with her care plan in accordance with Army regulations."

A spokesman for the Oregon Guard says the state has confidence in Penner's Madigan staff.

"We work with them on a regular basis, and they are doing the best they can in every circumstance," said Capt. Steve Bomar. "They're continuing to work the process for her."

***
Oregon is one of 14 states plus the District of Columbia that permit medical marijuana. About 39,000 patients in Oregon have approved cards. Since last fall, the Obama administration announced it would not prosecute people for possession in medical marijuana states.

Nonetheless, the Department of Defense rule remains black and white: Marijuana is forbidden for active duty and the reserve.

Since August 2007, the Oregon Guard has required soldiers and airmen to declare use of medical marijuana, disclose possession of a card and appear before an impartial medical board. The soldier is counseled on treatment options instead of marijuana, which they must either quit using or quit the Guard.

Only two other Oregon soldiers have disclosed their medical marijuana cards. One was retained after seeking alternate treatment, but the other was discharged because he got the card after he tested positive for the drug. Such cases are rare nationally. A spokesman for the California-based Americans for Safe Access, the country's largest medical marijuana organization, said he has heard of only one other soldier whose medical retirement is hung up on it.

"Can someone remain in the uniform service and use medical marijuana?" Oregon Guard spokesman Bomar said. "The answer is no."

***
Richelle Golden says her disclosure has prompted Madigan medical staff to disregard her civilian doctor's diagnoses, change her medication and ignore ongoing problems.

"I'm sick," she said. "I didn't understand this would become a huge issue."

The Madigan commander defends Golden's care. In statements to The Oregonian and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., he said it was appropriate to review her previous care and prescriptions and adjust accordingly. The inspector general for the Western Regional Medical Command in May in response to Golden's complaints also concluded that Golden had access to an attorney and that care was being provided and closed her complaint.

Her distress, though, has persisted. She is isolated at the Warrior Transition Unit, a rare female soldier in a small room in the 1930s barracks where she uses a walker to get around. She has four sons, ages 15 to 24, but has seen only two of them since winter. She says she never dreamed her marijuana use would jeopardize her retirement and reputation. She cries frequently and has called a suicide hot line since February. She has posted on her Facebook page and elsewhere pleading for help. She has accused the noncommissioned officers supervising her of verbal abuse. She says the medical staff has ignored masses on her breast and on her ovary until this week when her contact with The Oregonian became known.

"I am in so much pain," she wrote last Friday, "I can hardly stand it anymore."

She worries her situation will affect her husband of two years, Tom Golden, a warrant officer with the Oregon Guard. His father, brother and sister-in-law all serve in the armed forces.

"I'm not worried about me," said Tom Golden. "It's horrible hearing from her and not being able to do anything to help."

-- Julie Sullivan
So that you can rethink her guilt, this is what she looked like before the disease.
<img src=http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v1690/224/60/1107486015/n1107486015_30290340_3899.jpg>
<img src=http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v1690/224/60/1107486015/n1107486015_30290347_5297.jpg>
<img src=http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v1690/224/60/1107486015/n1107486015_30290350_5941.jpg>
<img src=http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v1690/224/60/1107486015/n1107486015_30290352_6327.jpg>
<img src=http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v1690/224/60/1107486015/n1107486015_30290353_6581.jpg>
<img src=http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v1690/224/60/1107486015/n1107486015_30290358_7709.jpg>
<img src=http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v1690/224/60/1107486015/n1107486015_30290361_8333.jpg>

Anyway, tough damn deal. She was a "true believer" in the military. Got back in after 9/11. Got sick just about 2 years ago. It caused her to gain a lot of weight, etc. Fucking sad to see. She was an absolute sweetheart with the mouth of a sailer. Pure sass and fun.

CRM114 06-11-10 01:46 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
Really has nothing to do with the military. At least you have medical marijuana in Washington. She'd just go to jail in PA whether she was in or out of the armed forces.

LurkerDan 06-11-10 02:34 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 

Originally Posted by CRM114 (Post 10206785)
Really has nothing to do with the military. At least you have medical marijuana in Washington. She'd just go to jail in PA whether she was in or out of the armed forces.

Huh? She wouldn't go to jail in PA because she wouldn't have used marijuana. If you read the article, she only started using it because her physician prescribed in a state where it is legal.

And how does this have nothing to do with the military? :hscratch:

spainlinx0 06-11-10 02:37 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
Doesn't matter if you are prescribed marijuana in a state where it is legal. You are still breaking federal law.

Personally, I'm for the legalization of marijuana, medical or otherwise, so I can't agree with this.

Bureaucracy is heartless. I don't know what else can be said.

CRM114 06-11-10 02:40 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
It has to do with the illegality of marijuana. Everything else is irrelevant. But thanks for over-analyzing my post LurkerDan!

islandclaws 06-11-10 09:18 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
How fucked. And to think that rapists and murderers are dealt a lesser hand all too often, yet they prosecute someone who is obviously dealing with a lot of physical pain. Sad, really.

DVD Polizei 06-11-10 09:30 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 

Originally Posted by LurkerDan (Post 10206877)
Huh? She wouldn't go to jail in PA because she wouldn't have used marijuana. If you read the article, she only started using it because her physician prescribed in a state where it is legal.

And how does this have nothing to do with the military? :hscratch:

Has nothing to do with the military because the Military says it has nothing to do with them. So, you're fucked. I have to agree with Lemmy. Signing on and fighting for the US is just plain NOT A GOOD IDEA unless you have a thing for pain and want to develop psychological and physical problems...and have less-than-average care to help you, if that.

It's a real shame how the US Military treats its few and proud who decide to risk their lives for others. Maybe if nobody signed up they'd re-think their stupid policies.

Nah, we can't have Richelle smoke pot--OH GOD NOOOOO!--but it's ok with us if she's addicted to morphine and methadone for the rest of her life.

starman9000 06-11-10 10:21 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
That's so screwed up.

E. Honda 06-12-10 04:08 AM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
She knew full well that she had not yet been discharged, and was still subject to the provisions of the UCMJ. She could have waited for her final discharge to get the marijuana, but she didn't. While I do sympathize with her, I am not sorry for her at all.

arminius 06-12-10 10:35 AM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
Fta

Sean O'Hara 06-12-10 12:20 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei (Post 10207428)
Has nothing to do with the military because the Military says it has nothing to do with them. So, you're fucked. I have to agree with Lemmy. Signing on and fighting for the US is just plain NOT A GOOD IDEA unless you have a thing for pain and want to develop psychological and physical problems...and have less-than-average care to help you, if that.

Bullshit. My father spent 20 years in the army, and the only thing he developed is an expertise in computer security that let's him have a $100k+/yr job. There are many, many people who come out of the military as good or better than they went in.

And, look, when you join the military, you agree to subject yourself to military law, which is stricter than civilian law. Little tolerance for drug use. You can't discuss politics in public. Misdemeanor infractions with the civilian police can get you hauled before a discipinary board and wreck your career.

Even if marijuana were decriminalized, the military wouldn't -- and shouldn't -- allow troops to use it. And that would include this woman.

classicman2 06-12-10 01:49 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
I was drafted - served in Vietnam as an Infantry Platoon Leader - I didn't develop any physical or mental problems. I'll admit it I got somewhat sick when I came home and watched a number of the Vietnam protests.

kvrdave 06-13-10 02:23 AM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 

Originally Posted by E. Honda (Post 10207754)
She knew full well that she had not yet been discharged, and was still subject to the provisions of the UCMJ. She could have waited for her final discharge to get the marijuana, but she didn't. While I do sympathize with her, I am not sorry for her at all.

I think this is where it got fucked up....

Retired Col. Ray Meyer reassured Golden that she could use marijuana because she was never going to return to duty. He had filed her separation paperwork himself months earlier.
She got (what turned out to be) really bad advice. Papers already filed, he knew she wouldn't be active again, and told her to go ahead. Part of the reason for that is because they would give her pills for the pain, and it would make her throw up, and that included the pills she took. So they had to start giving her more pills so that hopefully some would stay in her system after she threw up.

Even if I didn't know her, I'd feel sorry for anyone who suddenly gets cancer and is just trying to manage it, even if how it is done is not allowed by the armed forces.

spainlinx0 06-13-10 10:33 AM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
I don't know how you cannot sympathize with her. When you're in that much pain, you can think of little else. The Army rules matter little to a person in that condition.

DVD Polizei 06-13-10 04:15 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 

Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara (Post 10208113)
Bullshit. My father spent 20 years in the army, and the only thing he developed is an expertise in computer security that let's him have a $100k+/yr job. There are many, many people who come out of the military as good or better than they went in.

And, look, when you join the military, you agree to subject yourself to military law, which is stricter than civilian law. Little tolerance for drug use. You can't discuss politics in public. Misdemeanor infractions with the civilian police can get you hauled before a discipinary board and wreck your career.

Even if marijuana were decriminalized, the military wouldn't -- and shouldn't -- allow troops to use it. And that would include this woman.

Oh, ok. So, once again, don't take pot, but it's ok to shoot morphine on the front lines in cases of pain. You're not making sense, and given the US Military's history since the War On Something since 9/11, I seriously doubt your father's example is the STANDARD by which all US Military employees can rely on. Far from.

Congrats to your dad, but he's an exception. I know too many parents who's kids have come back AND HAVEN'T RECEIVED SHIT FOR HEALTHCARE OR INCOME ASSISTANCE. So don't tell me how fucking wonderful the US Gov't is, thanks.

Superboy 06-13-10 08:58 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 

Originally Posted by kvrdave (Post 10209020)
I think this is where it got fucked up....


She got (what turned out to be) really bad advice. Papers already filed, he knew she wouldn't be active again, and told her to go ahead. Part of the reason for that is because they would give her pills for the pain, and it would make her throw up, and that included the pills she took. So they had to start giving her more pills so that hopefully some would stay in her system after she threw up.

Even if I didn't know her, I'd feel sorry for anyone who suddenly gets cancer and is just trying to manage it, even if how it is done is not allowed by the armed forces.

I've known people who were on Marinol (the medical marijuana pill), and got fired from their jobs after drug screenings. They were for serious conditions too, like managing intense pain and nausea.

crazyronin 07-24-10 09:16 AM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
Probably doesn't make her situation any better, but:


V.A. Easing Rules for Users of Medical Marijuana
By DAN FROSCH

DENVER — The Department of Veterans Affairs will formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for several years.

A department directive, expected to take effect next week, resolves the conflict in veterans facilities between federal law, which outlaws marijuana, and the 14 states that allow medicinal use of the drug, effectively deferring to the states.

The policy will not permit department doctors to prescribe marijuana. But it will address the concern of many patients who use the drug that they could lose access to their prescription pain medication if caught.

Under department rules, veterans can be denied pain medications if they are found to be using illegal drugs. Until now, the department had no written exception for medical marijuana.

This has led many patients to distrust their doctors, veterans say. With doctors and patients pressing the veterans department for formal guidance, agency officials began drafting a policy last fall.

“When states start legalizing marijuana we are put in a bit of a unique position because as a federal agency, we are beholden to federal law,” said Dr. Robert Jesse, the principal deputy under secretary for health in the veterans department.

At the same time, Dr. Jesse said, “We didn’t want patients who were legally using marijuana to be administratively denied access to pain management programs.”

The new, written policy applies only to veterans using medical marijuana in states where it is legal. Doctors may still modify a veteran’s treatment plan if the veteran is using marijuana, or decide not to prescribe pain medicine altogether if there is a risk of a drug interaction. But that decision will be made on a case-by-case basis, not as blanket policy, Dr. Jesse said.

Though veterans of the Vietnam War were the first group to use marijuana widely for medical purposes, the population of veterans using it now spans generations, said Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, which worked with the department on formulating a policy.

Veterans, some of whom have been at the forefront of the medical marijuana movement, praised the department’s decision. They say cannabis helps soothe physical and psychological pain and can alleviate the side effects of some treatments.

“By creating a directive on medical marijuana, the V.A. ensures that throughout its vast hospital network, it will be well understood that legal medical marijuana use will not be the basis for the denial of services,” Mr. Krawitz said.

Although the Obama administration has not embraced medical marijuana, last October, in a policy shift, the Justice Department announced that it would not prosecute people who used or distributed it in states where it was legal.

Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, would not comment spefically on the veterans department policy. “What we have said in the past, and what we have said for a while, is that we are going to focus our federal resources on large scale drug traffickers,” she said. “We are not going to focus on individual cancer patients or something of the like.”

Many clinicians already prescribe pain medication to veterans who use medical marijuana, as there was no rule explicitly prohibiting them from doing so, despite the federal marijuana laws.

Advocates of medical marijuana use say that in the past, the patchwork of veterans hospitals and clinics around the country were sometimes unclear how to deal with veterans who needed pain medications and were legally using medical marijuana. The department’s emphasis on keeping patients off illegal drugs and from abusing their medication “gave many practitioners the feeling that they are supposed to police marijuana out of the system,” Mr. Krawitz said.

“Many medical-marijuana-using veterans have just abandoned the V.A. hospital system completely for this reason,” he said, “and others that stay in the system feel that they are not able to trust that their doctor will be working in their best interests.”

In rare cases, veterans have been told that they need to stop using marijuana, even if it is legal, or risk losing their prescription medicine, Mr. Krawitz said.

David Fox, 58, an Army veteran from Pompey’s Pillar, Mont., uses medical marijuana legally to help quiet the pain he experiences from neuropathy, a nerve disorder. But he said he was told this year by a doctor at a veterans’ clinic in Billings that if he did not stop using marijuana, he would no longer get the pain medication he was also prescribed.

A letter written to Mr. Fox in April from Robin Korogi, the director of the veterans health care system in Montana, explained that the department did not want to prescribe pain medicine in combination with marijuana because there was no evidence that marijuana worked for noncancer patients and because the combination was unsafe.

“In those states where medical marijuana is legal, the patient will need to make a choice as to which medication they choose to use for their chronic pain,” Ms. Korogi wrote. “However, it is not medically appropriate to expect that a V.A. physician will prescribe narcotics while the patient is taking marijuana.”

Mr. Fox was shocked by the decision, he said.

“I felt literally abandoned,” he said. “I still needed my pain meds. I thought they were supposed to treat you. It was devastating for me.”

Mr. Fox, who said that at one point he was weaning himself off his pain medication for fear of running out, has held one-man protests in front of the clinic, carrying signs that read “Abandoned by V.A., Refused Treatment.”

Veterans officials would not comment on specific cases, citing medical privacy laws.

This month, Dr. Robert A. Petzel, the under secretary for health for the veterans department, sent a letter to Mr. Krawitz laying out the department’s policy. If a veteran obtains and uses medical marijuana in accordance with state law, Dr. Petzel wrote, he should not be precluded from receiving opioids for pain management at a veterans facility.

Dr. Petzel also said that pain management agreements between clinicians and patients, which are used as guidelines for courses of treatment, “should draw a clear distinction between the use of illegal drugs, and legal medical marijuana.”

Dr. Jesse, the veterans department official, said that formalizing rules on medical marijuana would eliminate any future confusion and keep patients from being squeezed between state and federal law.

Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, which favors the legal regulation of the drug, called the decision historic. “We now have a branch of the federal government accepting marijuana as a legal medicine,” he said.

But Mr. Fox said he wished the policy had been extended to veterans who lived in states where medical marijuana was not legal.

He said it was critical that the veterans department make its guidelines clear to patients and medical staff members, something officials said they planned on doing in coming weeks.

Said Dr. Jesse, “The whole goal of issuing a national policy is to make sure we have uniformity across the system.”

jfoobar 07-24-10 02:08 PM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
Came in here to post that. :mad:

But seriously, this is a pretty significant statement being made by this VA policy directive.

Philzilla 07-25-10 09:57 AM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 

Originally Posted by jfoobar (Post 10284504)
Came in here to post that. :mad:

But seriously, this is a pretty significant statement being made by this VA policy directive.

Yes it is but irrelevant for this Guard Soldier, who up till this point has received free medical care for her health concerns and because of bad advice now may lose her eligibility for VA benefits.

kvrdave 07-26-10 01:03 AM

Re: Medical Marijuana is a "no-no" in the military.
 
Yeah, lots of her friends have told her to just give up and be with her family for her remaining time. But she's a fighter. She refuses to let them give her a dishonorable discharge without a fight. She is also thinking of her benefits to her kids after she is gone. Really shitty deal.


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