In reading Leonard Pitts' column "PFC forced to make a shameful choice," I was reminded of one of Nietzsche's quotes: "Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies." While I admire Mr. Pitts' passion, I do think it has blinded him to some facts.
Nobody goes around eating the bark of willow trees anymore. If you have pain, you can take a measured dose of the purified form of the active ingredient (Salicylic acid) -- it is called aspirin. Similarly, if you feel it will help to reduce pain, nausea, or anxiety, you can be prescribed a measured dose of the principal active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)--it has been available for years.
The proposition that there is a medical need for smoking marijuana is regularly asserted, but it is not true. (If you are interested in that issue, I recommend you read the American Medical Association's reviews of this subject over the years. Their conclusion: "cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern.")
I don't know whether Mr. Pitts' veteran has tried one of these drugs, although some people prefer controlling the drug themselves (i.e., smoking their pot, so they can get high whenever they wish). Perhaps it is equivalent to an alcoholic, when he decides he needs his drink to relax or feel good. Regardless, this veteran's consideration, of whether legal access to getting high whenever he chooses is worth his physical discomfort in colder weather, is his choice; Mr. Pitts' convictions notwithstanding.