“This war doesn’t end when you come back,” he said. Cannabis “really improved my quality of life … I found what works for me.”
Using marijuana regularly, he said, his angry outbursts diminished and he was able to get a good night’s sleep. He said he was able to kick his drinking habit and, best of all, he didn’t have to take the litany of pills he calls toxic. Pickering said he usually smokes a bit at night and calls himself a responsible family man, far from the stereotype of a coach-potato stoner.
He doesn’t know why marijuana changed his life, and researchers can only guess, because the plant has never been studied as a treatment for veterans’ PTSD. Despite state ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana for medical and nonmedical use in recent years, earlier this month it again received the highest drug classification by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A recently approved $2.15 million study — paid for by the state of Colorado and conducted by researchers from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Colorado, Johns Hopkins University and the Scottsdale Research Institute — could change all of that. While Americans like Pickering, suffering from ailments including PTSD, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Tourette’s syndrome, complications from HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases have sought relief through medical cannabis — legal in half the country — the federal government’s position is that the plant has no accepted medical use in treatment and a high potential for abuse.