By Spencer Ward
Recently Tom Angell of the Marijuana Moment reported that the American Legion yet again called on Congress to increase access to medical marijuana for veterans. After adopting resolutions in 2016 and 2017 to reschedule cannabis and allow doctors to prescribe it, the American Legion is back on Capitol Hill with renewed urgency and fresh priorities. In addition to rescheduling, the nation’s largest veterans’ group is asking for more research on medical cannabis and its application to opioid addiction, pain, depression, and other known conditions.
In written testimony provided in February to Congress by Denise Rohan, the American Legion National Commander, she made clear that the organization is not advocating for recreational marijuana, even conceding that if no medicinal value is discovered in cannabis, “The American Legion Advocates its return to schedule one.” However, their commitment to medical cannabis is nonetheless sincere.
Veterans continue to be some of the fiercest advocates of marijuana reform. WIth approximately %50 of their population suffering from chronic pain, and opioid abuse at an all-time high, the American Legion is stepping up where lawmakers and the Veterans Administration (V.A.) have failed. If their efforts will convince Congress, the Trump Administration, and particularly David Shulkin, Secretary of Veteran Affairs, is unclear. So far Shulkin has been unwilling to commit the V.A. to studying medical cannabis.
In a December 2017 letter to U.S. Representative Tim Walz, Shulked stated the “VA is committed to researching and developing effective ways to help Veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain conditions. However, Federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or to refer Veterans to such projects.”
There are a lot of veterans who would like to be referred to such projects. A poll done by the American Legion found that 81% of them want marijuana as a federally legal
treatment option. Service members and ex-service members have made the ultimate sacrifice for country. It’s high time we listen to these men and women and welcome
them home with flowers and opportunity instead of pills.
Author bio: Spencer is a longtime cannabis advocate, hiking enthusiast, and current Treasurer of Denver NORML. If he isn’t hiking somewhere in the Rockies, he’ll likely be found at a live show. Spencer is a firm believer that cannabis and an active lifestyle go hand-in-hand.