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American Legion and Medical Cannabis

American Legion Supports Medical Cannabis Usage for Veterans

The American Legion has become the latest hero in the fight to give veterans access to medical cannabis usage. The position of the VA has been and remains that of denying veterans the usage of medical cannabis. Even worse is the restriction on VA doctors of discussing the subject with veterans. Just recently, the American Legion adopted a resolution urging the federal government to not only discuss, but also recommend medical cannabis usage to veterans in states where medical cannabis is legal.

The resolution was recently passed at the Legion’s national convention in Reno, Nevada. It was authored by Ohio Legion member, Rob Ryan. His home state has the 4th highest rate of overdose deaths. Ryan has heard over and over again from dozens of veterans that medical cannabis is a safe alternative to addictive and life-threatening opioids. Ryan proposed the resolution at the county, district and state levels in Ohio before presenting it at the national convention in Nevada.

The American Legion, which has 2 million members, is a powerful organization in this country. Last summer, the organization attempted to get marijuana removed from the Schedule I list of Controlled Substances. This would have allowed for much more cannabis research to move forward. The medicine should never have been put on the list in the first place. Schedule I drugs are deemed to be highly addictive, with no medical usage. The organization has repeatedly requested meetings with President Trump to ask him to change his administration’s stance on medical cannabis. The American Legion does have an ally in the Trump administration, VA Director David Shulkin. He has publicly stated that he is open to examining new evidence that suggests that cannabis can safely treat veterans.

Last year, the “Veterans Equal Access” measure passed both the House and Senate via the VA appropriations bill. Sadly, the measure did not make it into law due to problems with reconciling the differences between the Senate and House versions. This past July, the Senate Appropriations Committee overwhelming voted to approve the measure. However, the House Committee wouldn’t even bring it to the floor for a vote. There is still a possibility that the Senate amendment might make it through the conference committee.

Dr. Sue Sisley, a researcher who is conducting a study with medical cannabis using veterans with PTSD, was also in attendance at the American Legion convention. She conducted a tour with 7 American Legion members to Nevada Botanical Science — a cannabis cultivation site located in an industrial park just north of Reno. They visited 3 grow rooms and a lab where plants were turned into concentrates. One of the attendees from Alabama was very interested in medical cannabis. She intends to talk to her congressmen about American Legion priorities, including medical cannabis. Dr. Sisley is still looking for Arizona-based veteran volunteers for her study. The involvement of the American Legion appears to be the best hope in applying pressure to change the VA policy about medical cannabis usage.

Source: Stars and Stripes, American Legion Adopts Resolution Supporting Medical Marijuana, Nikki Wentling, August 25, 2017

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