"Please vote yes on Amendment 64 so that other vets don't have to suffer." --Corporal Sean Azzariti, United States Marine Corps
That's the poignant message of the latest ad from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the pot advocacy group behind Colorado's Amendment 64 which seeks to end marijuana prohibition in the state.
"I was a Marine for six years, I deployed to Iraq twice," Cpl. Azzariti begins in the ad. "I came home and started having the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Marijuana helped me from the moment I started using it. It calmed me down, it slowed my heart rate down -- my anxiety was almost gone immediately."
Veterans with PTSD do not have legal access to medical marijuana in Colorado, however, if passed, Amendment 64 would provided legal access to marijuana for veterans suffering with PTSD without fear of arrest.
Back in September, a group of Colorado veterans formed the "Veterans for 64" group in response to the Colorado Department of Public Health's second denial to add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana treatment.
"Our only option is to support Amendment 64, which will ensure that Coloradans 21 and older who suffer from PTSD will no longer be subject to arrest and prosecution for using marijuana," Vietnam veteran Bob Wiley said in a statement announcing the formation of Veterans for 64 in September.
In July, the Colorado Springs Independent published a detailed story on why medical marijuana for veterans is such a critical issue. Unfortunately, traditional PTSD treatments don't work all that well and without medical marijuana, there can be limited options for treatment. Brian Vicente, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, explained the dire situation veterans are in to the Independent, "Since the time we last filed this petition, suicides by veterans have spiked. We're now up to 18 veterans committing suicide per day," Vicente said.
Amendement 64 seeks to end marijuana prohibition in Colorado by allowing for marijuana to be sold to adults, taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol. According to the Associated Press, analysts project that that tax revenue could generate somewhere between $5 million and $22 million a year in the state. A study from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy projects as much as a $60 million boost by 2017.
Early voting has begun in Colorado and state voters are already deciding if marijuana prohibition should end in the Centennial State. This is the second time that Colorado voters will decide on pot legislation -- in 2006, voters rejected a similar recreational pot legalization initiative.