The American Legion, one of the country’s most influential veteran affairs organizations, has officially asked Donald Trump to remove cannabis from the Schedule I narcotics list and make way for widespread research into the effects of cannabinoids on post-traumatic stress disorder.
"We are not asking for it to be legalized," Louis Celli, the national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation for the American Legion, told Politico. "There is overwhelming evidence that it has been beneficial for some vets. The difference is that it is not founded in federal research because it has been illegal."
The American Legion is the country’s largest veterans association, with 2.4 million members and a significant amount of pull on the right side of the aisle. The group has requested a White House meeting with Trump’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner to discuss their cannabis research goals.
There are already marijuana-specific veterans groups like Weed for Warriors, the Battlefield Foundation, and the Veterans Cannabis Project that are already taking a stand for returning soldiers who’ve found hope in cannabis, but the American Legion’s new push for cannabinoid research is a break from the organization’s conservative roots.
As of now, the government-run Department of Veteran Affairs does not allow doctors to even discuss cannabis with their patients, let alone recommend it.
"We need solutions," said Nick Etten, a former Navy SEAL who runs the Veterans Cannabis Project. "We need treatment that works. We need treatment that is not destructive. The VA has been throwing opiates at veterans for almost every condition for the last 15 years. You are looking at a system that has made a problem worse the way they have approached treatment."
Of course, there is already one federally sanctioned study looking at the effects of cannabis on PTSD, but those researchers are required to use the low-THC ditch weed grown by government-sponsored cultivators.
So far the Trump Administration’s stance on cannabis has been nothing but fear-mongering and threats, but support from the American Legion could change that - if there’s one thing Trump doesn’t want, it’s two and a half million conservative war veterans switching their allegiances over cannabis.