The American Legion
The largest wartime veterans organization in the country for the first time has taken a favorable position on the use of cannabis to treat certain medical conditions, as vets nationwide grapple with ongoing problems related to PTSD and addiction to opioids and prescription painkillers. The American Legion (AL) last week voted on a resolution at its annual convention that urges both the DEA and the U.S. Congress to alter their approaches to cannabis use and research, believing that the substance could be of medical benefit to veterans.
“The American Legion urge the Drug Enforcement Agency to license privately-funded medical marijuana production operations in the United States to enable safe and efficient cannabis drug development research,” the resolution states.
The DEA recently rejected a petition that sought to have cannabis downgraded from its current status as a Schedule I federally-controlled substance. The classification places cannabis on par with such other substances as cocaine and heroin regarding its potentially-addicting properties and its perceived medicinal value.
The AL also urged a federal reclassification of cannabis, saying that doing so could alter perceptions of the substance’s medical use.
“The American Legion urge Congress to amend legislation to remove Marijuana from Schedule I and reclassify it in a category that, at a minimum will recognize cannabis as a drug with potential medical value,” the resolution continues.
The DEA’s recent decision, while disappointing to cannabis legalization advocates, nonetheless opens the door for more research into its medicinal properties. Even more encouraging was the agency’s April announcement that it had granted its first-ever blessing into the study of cannabis’ effects on PTSD, to be undertaken by the nonprofit research organization Multidisciplinary Approach to Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
The American Legion’s resolution was greeted by Dr. Sue Sisley, one of the leading researchers into cannabis’s medical potential and an outspoken advocate for the Legion’s adoption of the resolution.
“I consider this a major breakthrough for such a conservative veterans organization,” she said. “Suddenly the American Legion has a tangible policy statement on cannabis that will allow them to lobby and add this to their core legislative agenda. The organization has a massive amount of influence at all levels.”
The use of cannabis to treat PTSD is becoming increasingly widespread amongst veterans, with veterans groups across the country warming to both the distribution and use of medical marijuana to alleviate many of the medical conditions associated with combat.
William Detweiler, who chairs the AL’s permanent committee on traumatic brain injuries and PTSD and is a past AL national commander, has clarified that medical cannabis is not a cure-all for veterans suffering from these medical conditions, but rather one in a series of positive treatments that can be undertaken.
“It’s a tool in a toolbox,” he says. “We’re not advocating the use of marijuana or any other drugs,” but rather that vets “have a right to anything that may help them.”