American Legion Supports Medical Cannabis as a Treatment Option for Veterans

Last week, The American Legion’s national commander and several other witnesses testified on behalf of the efficacy of medical cannabis before the Senate and House committees of Veterans’ Affairs in a joint hearing.

The American Legion presented on several topics regarding to the healthcare of veterans, including employment of veterans in hospitals, improvement of care for female veterans and the growing desire of veterans to have medical cannabis as an option for medical treatment.

American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan said, “The federal government continues to list cannabis as a Schedule I drug—the most addictive and dangerous—although its addiction rates are lower than alcohol, and the less-restrictive Schedule II classification applies to opioids, which kill 91 Americans every day,” in her testimony.

“The American Legion calls for immediate reclassification of cannabis to allow research into its potential for medical application, and if no medical value is found, The American Legion advocates its return to Schedule I,” she continued. “By continuing to consider accumulating evidence of the efficacy of cannabis-based medicines, the federal schedule fails patients fighting debilitating conditions, including PTSD and potentially lethal opioid addiction.”

As part of the written testimony, The American Legion referenced a poll taken last year where 92 percent of respondents said that they support the research of medical cannabis for the treatment of conditions such as PTSD or other ailments that commonly affect veterans. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they want cannabis as a federally legal treatment option.

While the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs, David Shulkin, has consistently said that the department is barred under federal law from studying or recommending medical cannabis, advocates maintain there is no federal law that bars the department changing its policy.

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe told Star and Stripes on Tuesday that he supports the V.A. researching cannabis. The Republican representative from Tennessee spoke to reporters after giving an address to hundreds of American Legion members gathered fir a conference and career event. Medical cannabis is not legal in Tennessee but a new bill, the Medical Cannabis Only Act of 2018, has been introduced in the House.

“There is so much controversy about cannabis now,” Roe said. “We need to study that drug, like any other drug. Where there are benefits—if there are any—then we use it for what it’s researched for.”

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