Why Jeff Sessions Is Being Sued by a Combat Veteran Over Medical Marijuana

Why Jeff Sessions Is Being Sued by a Combat Veteran Over Medical Marijuana

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Jose Belen spent his early 20s serving in one of the military’s severest roles—as a field artillery soldier in Baghdad. His job was to “find and kill the enemy,” and death was a reality he learned to accept. Fourteen months of warfare left him “bled dry” of his emotions and his smile. He watched his best friend die, and he would look up at the sky every day to say, “God, it’s OK if you take me.” But those weren’t the scariest moments of his life. Instead, the most frightening moments came when the side effects kicked in from two powerful pills the Department of Veteran Affairs gave him for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—just one chapter of a long period of trial and error for his turmoil. The pills, venlafaxine and nortriptyline, turned him into “basically the Incredible Hulk," the 35-year-old told Newsweek last week from his home in Orlando, Florida. He scared his wife and kids, and he was furious. “I nearly snapped,” he said. That treatment was a breaking point. And it turned out that after an assortment of medications his VA doctor prescribed to him, the one that finally worked was one the VA couldn’t prescribe: medical marijuana. On February 14, after battling PTSD for 13 and a half years, the combat veteran and married father of two will be taking the U.S. government to court over the drug. He’s one of five plaintiffs, including a 12-year-old with epilepsy , suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions over medical marijuana, alleging that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which deems marijuana illegal, is unconstitutional. In a 98-page criminal complaint, the prosecution alleges, among other things, that the CSA limits patients’ travels within the U.S. and blocks them from entering government buildings; that it discriminates against black people, who […]

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