The largest veterans group in the United States wants the suits on Capitol Hill to provide wounded soldiers with access to medical marijuana.
According to a report from Stars & Stripes, the American Legion, which represents more than 2 million vets, passed a resolution earlier this week pressuring the federal government to give doctors employed with the Department of Veterans Affairs the ability to discuss and recommend medical marijuana in states where it is legal.
“More than half the states in the union have passed medical marijuana laws to date,” the resolution reads. “The American Legion urge the United States government to permit VA medical providers to be able to discuss with veterans the use of marijuana for medical purposes and recommend it in those states where medical marijuana laws exist.”
The motion came to pass during the organization’s national convention in Reno, Nevada. The objective is to let the nation’s leaders know just how important this issue is for the thousands of veterans who could be using medical marijuana as an alternative to dangerous prescription drugs.
“Our state congressmen, when the American Legion says something, they listen. Hopefully, this will have the same impact at the federal level,” said American Legion member Rob Ryan, who drafted the resolution. “People should not be afraid to go to their doctors and talk honestly.”
This is not the first time the American Legion has come forward in support of marijuana reform.
Last year, the group called for the federal government to remove marijuana from its Schedule I classification under the DEA’s Controlled Substances Act. The decree was intended to persuade the federal government to lift the restrictions that have prevented the cannabis plant from being considered medicine for those vets suffering from serious health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
As it stands, it is against the rules for Veterans Affairs doctors to even mention marijuana as a treatment option to their patients. Although this policy technically expired well over a year ago, the department still hasn’t published an update.
In May, VA Secretary David Shulkin said the department was “interested in looking at” cannabis for its potential therapeutic benefits, “but until the time that federal law changes, we are not able to be able to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions that may be helpful.”
However, there is hope that Legion’s latest call for medical marijuana access will push Congress to take action where it has failed so many times before.
“Year after year, we’ve never been able to pass the Veterans Equal Access amendment,” said Dr. Sue Sisley, who is presently exploring how marijuana can help veterans with PTSD. “With the full weight of the American Legion behind this next round of legislation, I know we can finally get this approved.”