For most of Randy LoBasso’s Philadelphia Weekly article “Iraq War Veterans Turn to Marijuana for Managing PTSD Symptoms,” the writer does a good job of humanizing PTSD sufferers, shining a light on the military’s failure to explore adequate treatment options for former servicepersons suffering from the condition.
The highlight of the article is Lobasso’s depiction of Iraq War veteran Jason Mays’ (pictured above) personal struggle to manage the fear and uncertainty that comes with PTSD in his civilian life. LoBasso constructs this part of his story primarily out of direct quotations, allowing Mays’ powerful account to speak for itself.
Unfortunately, the article’s title indicates that it will about Iraq War veterans dealing with PTSD by turning to marijuana. At no point does LoBasso say that Mays uses marijuana, nor does Mays himself suggest he wishes he would be allowed to use it.
To introduce the topic of marijuana use, LoBasso must turn to an entirely different PTSD suffering veteran. He summarizes former Air Force weather observer Amy Herrera’s situation in a single paragraph before launching into a messy and inconclusive argument that social and political pressures are preventing researchers from being able to seriously study the effects of marijuana on PTSD. Herrera uses marijuana to alleviate her condition, and so provides a more appropriate subject for the article than Mays, yet her story does not get nearly as much attention.
LoBasso comes back to both Herrera and Mays later in the article but never connects the two threads, nor does LoBasso offer justification for what Mays is doing in a story about PTSD and marijuana. LoBasso should have either concentrated solely on Mays or dropped Mays entirely to more thoroughly explore the marijuana angle.
– Text by Brendan Clay. Image from Philadelphia Weekly.