The American Legion is coming out of retirement to battle with the federal government about the schedule 1 category of marijuana. Many veterans are finding the use of marijuana to be therapeutic for many reasons including relief from PTSD.
The Schedule 1 category for marijuana makes marijuana dangerous for even our veterans to possess. It also prevents any proper scientific research to be conducted that could prove or disprove that marijuana has any true medical value or is addictive. The United States Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, though seems to not care about scientific research on marijuana or the potential benefits it could bring to veterans.
The Trump administration’s attack on legal marijuana, already stymied by large states determined not to roll back the clock, is increasingly confronting an even more politically potent adversary: military veterans.
Frustrated by federal laws restricting their access to a drug many already rely on to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and opioid addiction, veterans have become an influential lobbying force in the marijuana debate after sitting on the sidelines for years.
The 2 million-member American Legion last spring got involved in a big way by launching a campaign to reduce marijuana restrictions that, it says, hurt veterans and may aggravate a suicide epidemic.
The move reflects the changing politics of marijuana and of a conservative, century-old veterans service organization facing new challenges as its membership grows with those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We were hearing these compelling stories from veterans about how cannabis has made their lives better,” said Joseph Plenzler, a spokesman for the American Legion. “That they were able to use it to get off a whole cocktail of drugs prescribed by VA doctors, that it is helping with night terrors, or giving them relief from chronic pain.”
At the same time, some patients complained that Veterans Affairs doctors refused to offer any advice for using medical marijuana yet recorded who was using it, raising fears that such information might be used to punish former service members or strip their benefits.
The legion is calling for marijuana to be reclassified federally from a drug that has no medical benefit and is more dangerous than cocaine to be included in the same category as legal prescription painkillers. And that has caught the attention of lawmakers.
A measure the legion supports, which would permit VA doctors to give their patients the sign-off they need to access medical marijuana in states where it is legal, was approved by a key Senate budget committee this month on a 24-7 vote, with nine Republicans voting in favor. The measure is among the veterans-related marijuana legislation gaining traction at an otherwise challenging time in Washington for pot advocates.
“This is one marijuana issue a lot of Republicans are interested in,” said Sarah Trumble, deputy director of social policy and politics at Third Way, a centrist think tank that advocates easing federal restrictions on cannabis. “It’s the baseball and apple pie of marijuana.”
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