My name is Thomas Steele and I am a veteran and a cannabis patient. I served our nation in two wars, Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. As a result of my service in Iraq, I was diagnosed in 2010 with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was later determined by the Veterans Administration to have a 100% service connected disability. My story is not unique. There are many citizens of the Commonwealth who struggle with conditions for which cannabis has provided relief.
I use cannabis to manage my PTSD symptoms which include: depression, anger outbursts, nightmares, flashbacks, severe anxiety, hyper-vigilance, the inability to feel positive emotions, feelings of being cut off from loved ones and friends, and the inability to experience pleasure from previously pleasurable activities, among others. The worst symptoms were those that created problems with my family. Frequent rages, the inability to effectively handle stress, the inability to maintain meaningful employment, and feelings of worthlessness created a volatile situation with my wife and stepson that became so unbearable that at one point I considered moving out of my home. This turmoil left me feeling suicidal.
My use of cannabis has made a major positive impact in my life. The combination of daily doses of CBD and THC have helped to lessen anxiety and promote calm, in order to avoid anger outbursts. This treatment allows me to process incoming stimuli in an appropriate manner, rather than having an immediate fight or flight response to nearly all external stressors. This treatment, along with the steadfast support of my wife and family, has allowed me to continue living at home.
I will not reiterate here all the other reasons why many citizens support a medical cannabis program. I will simply state that I believe the legal use of medical cannabis has made my life livable again. In conjunction with psychotherapeutic treatment, I have made strides towards being able to function in my home, with my family, and marginally outside the home. I look forward to the day that I can again find meaningful employment and continue to be a contributor to our nation.
My understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship includes that when citizens answer their nation’s call to service, the government bears the responsibility to care for its military veterans who have borne the battle. While this body does not have the authority to change national policy, it is within our state's leaders purview to affect how this issue is dealt with here, in your community.