Military veteran joins the fight for medical marijuana in Virginia

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Weed, Mary Jane, pot: For some folks, it`s not slang, it`s a change-your-life serious subject.

Twenty-two states now have medical cannabis laws on the books but Virginia is not among them.

One military veteran is waging a personal battle on behalf of veterans’ health rights everywhere to change that.

Every human being has a story to tell, and T.J. Thompson's begins with a simple but profound statement!

"I'm a U.S. Navy Veteran from 98' to 04' and I suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” says Thompson.

Related: Could a weed bill puff puff pass in Virginia?

Thompson says he's tried traditional medicine in the Navy, for his PTSD, but it didn't work for him.

"But the anti-depressants actually make me suicidal, and I had the same experiences when I was in the military in 2001,” says Thomson. “So I decided to start trying marijuana and actually weaned myself off the prescription drugs I was on, and now it's strictly marijuana.”

“It doesn't completely get rid of the symptoms, but it definitely helps me manage,” he says.

NewsChannel 3’s Barbara Ciara asked him to describe his symptoms.

“My family would live in fear of the outbursts and rage and anxiety attacks I would have,” he says.

“I would go to my son's basketball game. I have hyper alertness, which means I’m extremely aware and on edge when I'm intense, well lit situations lots of noise,” says Thompson.

“[It] leads up to a panic attack where I completely lose it. I could be curled up on the kitchen floor crying like a baby,” explains Thompson.

"Give me an example of how cannabis improves your life?” asked Ciara.

“When I started using the medical marijuana, cannabis as we prefer to call it by the scientific name, I would be more active. I go and I am more relaxed, I enjoy the game.

At the state capital, where he is part of the lobby group "Safe Access" he’s trying to convince Virginia lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana.

On MLK Day, he walked the halls of the General Assembly with his rough draft of what he hopes will be the "Virginia Medical Cannabis Act.”

The bill does not yet have a sponsor but Thompson says he did get positive feedback.

“It was a very successful day. First and foremost, we met with a lot of leaders in the General Assembly,” he says.

“So a lot people are seeing this as a human rights issue versus a republican or democratic issue; it’s something we just need to help each other out with,” explains Thompson.

Thompson sees this a productive day with an eye on major steps toward legal status next year.

"So it looks like in 2015 we will have medical cannabis legislation introduced in both the House and in the Senate which was very big for us,” says Thompson.


  • Tom Palumbo

    I know scores of Veterans who agree with TJ’s position.

    There is significant empiric and scientific evidence to show the government has been on the wrong side of cannabis prohibition.

    • TJ Th'dj

      We would like to get it out of the criminal code altogether. And when we went before the Courts Of Justice Criminal Law Subcommittee to fight HB 684 this year, they agreed for the first time since this law was passed and are going to help us get a new law heard in front of the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee in the House. We are winning small battles that will lead up to us winning the war.

      • destrey531

        T.j, Thank you so much for all your hard work!!! Though I do not suffer from PTSD, I do suffer from Chronic debilitating migraines, severe depression and pancreatitis, all of which are 1000 times more manageable with Cannabis, than the conventional medications I was taking for those illnesses!!!

    • steve

      IMO, that law should be amended to allow doctors to prescribe it as they see fit in their medical opinion. Marijuana is no worse than other things they prescribes for it’s possible uses. The govt needs to stop telling doctors how to practice medicine.

  • Dave K

    Between 1850 and 1900 about half the prescriptions written by doctors in the US contained cannabis, commonly known as marijuana. During that time there were many papers written regarding its medical benefits but I can’t find any that suggested that cannabis caused addiction. That wasn’t really an issue until the Controlled Substances Act required it for placement in schedule I. It’s important to remember that cannabis was not placed on schedule I because it was dangerous. It was placed there at the time because they lacked evidence. When the “blue ribbon” panel known as the Shafer Commission recommended that it not be scheduled at all Nixon rejected their recommendation and instead started the War on Drugs. Well, we all know how well that has worked out. After spending 1.5 Trillion dollars all we have to show is cheaper drugs, more potent drugs, and more ready access for our children. Cannabis is a natural herbal medicine that really does work. It is time to bring it back to public availability.

  • Universer

    Thank you for calling the thing what it is: Cannabis.

    Cannabis is the appropriate botanical label. “Marijuana” is a slang term stolen from Mexican Spanish and introduced to the American lexicon by an Anslinger-led sect of crusaders bent on demonizing the established item previously known as cannabis.

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