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Indiana American Legion Pressures State to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Could this be the endorsement that finally gets state lawmakers to hear the issue?

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The largest veterans organization in Indiana is calling on the General Assembly to legalize a statewide medical marijuana program.

According to Indiana Public Media, the American Legion Department of Indiana recently passed a resolution begging for area lawmakers, as well as Congress, to get serious about providing veterans with the freedom to use cannabis as an alternative to prescription medication. The resolution, which was approved on Sunday, is the largest endorsement for legal marijuana to ever surface in the Hoosier State.

“Who’s going to get this done? Veterans have a better chance of being at the tip of the spear than Joe civilian,” Jeff Staker, the Kokomo veteran responsible for drafting the resolution, said in an interview last month. “Legislators listen to veterans."

Incidentally, the Indiana resolution falls in line with one that was passed in 2016 by the national American Legion.

Last August, the Legion urged the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to downgrade the Schedule I classification of the cannabis plant in order to encourage more research. This move was an attempt to get the U.S government to recognize marijuana, once and for all, as a safe and effective treatment for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury.

Throughout the years, Indiana lawmakers have been unsuccessful in getting a medical marijuana bill heard in the State Legislature. Republican controls have simply refused to allow any measure pertaining to pot reform to get so much as fair shot in committee. However, with the influence of the Indiana American Legion, which comes with the power of 84,000 veterans statewide, there is a distinct possibility that this could finally change.

Earlier this month, Democratic Senator Karen Tallian submitted a proposal to the Indiana General Assembly aimed at legalizing medical marijuana. The measure (Senate Bill 255) would allow patients with a variety of health conditions, including PTSD, to gain access to cannabis medicine.

Seventy-three percent of Indiana residents believe marijuana should be made legal for medicinal use, according to the latest WTHR Howey Politics Indiana Poll.