Local group pushing lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana for veterans

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An organization is pushing lawmakers to allow veterans access to medical marijuana.

“Our backs are against the wall,” said Army veteran Jimmy Giordano.

Giordano is a Hoosier Hero who served in the Army for nearly a decade. After deployments and redeployments, Giordano is home but he’s still fighting.

“All day 24/7, there’s no pause button I can’t turn it off, I’ve learned to live with it literally,” he said.

In 2009, the VA diagnosed Giordano with PTSD. He also suffers from chronic pain. The Army veteran was taking pain medication and recently like so many other veterans, Giordano was cut off.  Sadly, others turned a different direction taking to the streets to feed their addiction.

“We are losing more veterans each year to overdoses and suicides,” said Jeff Staker with Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis, a group he formed about a year ago.

Some studies show as many as 20% of the nation’s suicides involve those who served our country.

“Death ground is where you put an army in a position where they have no alternative but to fight or die trying, well we are in that situation here in Indiana,” said Staker, who's taking his mission of legalizing medical marijuana to Washington, D.C. next week.

He and a group of doctors, veterans and cannabis advocates will hold a forum, trying to convince lawmakers they should allow doctors to prescribe veterans cannabis.

“We’re not all just trying to do this so we can all smoke joints and go be happy somewhere and hide out in the woods,” Giordano said.

Those opposed to legalizing any form of marijuana argue that it's a gateway drug and could lead to heroin or other substance abuse.

“Just like any other substance any other anything in this world you can think of, in the wrong hands it can be a bad thing,” Giordano said.

Year after year, attempts to pass any marijuana legislation have failed in Indiana.  Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis is prepared to keep fighting.

“There’s a lot of people pushing for this for the right reasons,” Giordano said.

The forum in Washington will take place next Wednesday. Last legislative session, Indiana lawmakers passed a bill authorizing the use of cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, for patients with epilepsy. That oil is derived from marijuana.

State Rep. Jim Lucas, plans to introduce a bill to legalize medical marijuana during the next legislative session.  He’s the first Republican to propose this type of legislation in at least five years.

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