American Legion Calls for Marijuana Rescheduling

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The nation’s largest military veterans organization is officially calling on the federal government to reschedule marijuana.

The American Legion, which has more than 2 million members, passed a resolution at its annual convention last week urging 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.”

Dr. Sue Sisley, one of the researchers for the first federally-approved study examining medical cannabis’s benefits for people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a driving force behind the effort to get the American Legion on board, said the organization’s support will propel the debate about the issue.

“I consider this a major breakthrough for such a conservative veterans organization,” she told Marijuana.com. “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.”

Sisley, who spoke at the American Legion convention in Cincinnati before the vote on the resolution, has been lobbying local American Legion posts to endorse her research for the past two years.

“I was surprised to see how many of the local posts were eager to support our work but I wondered how we could ever get the national office to examine this,” she said, adding that she met with with key American Legion national staff over the past year. After hearing how marijuana’s Schedule I status impedes research into the benefits it can bring to veterans suffering from physical and psychological war wounds, leadership ended up inviting Sisley to present at a forum on PTSD and traumatic brain injury in January. That was received well, and the organization then invited her to speak at the national convention last week.

Calling the resolution an “historic shift in public policy,” Sisley said that her plenary presentation to the full convention was probably the first time the word “cannabis” has ever been uttered on the organization’s main stage.

“I only heard very positive feedback from the thousands of veterans in the audience,” she said. “I was stunned at how little controversy there was. It seems highly unanimous among American Legion members that we owe it to the veteran community to demand end to the barriers to this kind of cannabis research. In light of the epidemic of veteran suicide, the Legion knows they must strive to uncover new treatments for PTSD/opioid epidemic, etc.”

The American Legion’s call for rescheduling comes less than a month after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rejected long-pending petitions to reclassify marijuana from its current status as a Schedule I drug under federal law. That category is supposed to be reserved for substances with no medical value.

The National Conference of State Legislature also recently called for marijuana to be rescheduled, as have a growing number of members of Congress.

Mike Liszewski of Americans for Safe Access said that the American Legion’s stance will aid efforts to convince even more lawmakers support medical cannabis legislation.

“For years, many of the Congressional offices that have been hesitant to vote in favor of medical marijuana reform have asked if groups such as the American Legion have weighed in,” he told Marijuana.com. “With the American Legion joining the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in supporting federal medical marijuana reform, it will be increasingly difficult for Congressional leadership to continue blocking efforts to expand research and move marijuana out of Schedule I.”

The American Legion resolution, which was sponsored by the group’s Louisiana department, also calls on DEA to begin issuing more licenses to cultivate cannabis for research into its medical benefits, a move which the agency announced it was making on the same day as its denial of rescheduling.

Medical marijuana access for military veterans is an issue that is gaining traction and bipartisan support.

In May, the U.S. House approved an amendment to let veterans get medical cannabis recommendations from Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) doctors by a vote of 233 – 189. On the same day, the Senate passed its version of legislation to fund the V.A. through 2017, which included a medical marijuana provision that had already been attached to the bill by the body’s Appropriations Committee in a vote of 20 – 10.

After bills pass both the House and Senate, Congressional leadership appoints a conference committee made up of members from either chamber who then meet to reconcile the differences into a final package to be sent to the president for enactment.

Marijuana policy observers expected that the conference committee would include protections for veterans who need medical cannabis since the measures passed so handily through bipartisan votes in both chambers.

But the final V.A. spending package approved by negotiators was totally silent on the issue, forcing veterans who want medical marijuana to continue to seek recommendations from doctors outside the V.A., which can be costly and time-consuming.

Congressional leadership is currently renegotiating the veterans funding bill in the wake of an unrelated dispute over funding to fight the Zika virus, so there is still a chance the medical marijuana language can be reinserted before everything is finalized.

Congress reconvenes from its summer recess on Tuesday, and advocates are hoping to hear good news about the veterans legislation soon.

Read the full American Legion resolution on marijuana below:

[scribd id=323168449 key=key-BUHBt3FHwGVUIg4u3Yge mode=scroll]

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

17 Comments

  1. As an American veteran…I am baffled at the reasoning of the DEA not to re-schedule marijuana. Maybe they should talk to their sister department the FDA. The FDA has been approving drugs with THC as their main ingredient since 1985. Marinol, Cesemet, and Sativex to name a few. In fact, Marinol is advertised as “legal marijuana”. The FDA has plenty of research on the benefits of THC, but the DEA acts like this research doesn’t exist or refuse to look at it. Someone needs to take them by the ear and walk them over to the FDA.

    • They need to quit killing vet with there parmicticals any legt use medication that don’t make up vomite give you the shakes and hate your family destroying relationships running lives is America they stupid . Well they must be I live in a states withheld it is illegal b but I am not going to live the death sentence the va has handed out sence medication with cannabis the world has change . If that is is the case why is or government so so do incompetent is is a total self centered country things will change one way or another so government get off of you
      R ass before it could be to late. I thought we were still FREE!!!?!!!!!!!!

    • I believe the situation is beyond taking the ignorant DEA by the ear … that is also very difficult to do since they wear their sphincter muscles as a necklace … it seems to me that it’s time to wrap both hands around their uneducated, ignorant throats and drag the unconscious DEA into the year 2016 to accept as fact the realities of legal medical marijuana and legal recreational marijuana that the CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA have decided to vote into law.

  2. I’m a Vietnam Era vet and have used marijuana since I was in the Army … it has improved the quality of my life without the severe destruction that results when we’ve used alcohol, tobacco and chemicals over a lifetime … Dr. Sue Sisley is a wonderful advocate for marijuana research and is a brilliant doctor who has put her career on the line to improve access to marijuana and to increase research into this amazing and almost magical plant.

    • I met Dr. Sisley twice in Nevada and was very impressed by her drive and knowledge. If they (FDA) let her, she will do some important work in the PTSD field of medicine. Look at it this way, our government is about 5 years behind the social revolution going on right before their eyes. They don’t know to sh*t or go blind. We must beat them over the their heads with facts. FACTS. Lets get ahead of these butt clown org. called SAM.

      • I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Sisley, but I can tell even on video that this lady truly cares … her passion is real and her sacrifices for- and devotion to – the cause to legalize pot (for WHATEVER use we see fit as informed adults) is beyond question … I’m just so tired of the ignorance of the anti-pot people … these are the same idiots who are anti-choice when it comes to a woman being able to decide what to do with her own body … it seems to come down to the other side telling us that we have no free choice and that we are fools, idiots, ninnies, incompetents who need to do what THEY say because THEY know better than WE know (I’m gagging) when it comes to our own happiness and well-being …

  3. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of Kentucky passed a marijuana resolution in June of 2014!

    Justification:

    Thousands of our Comrade Veterans use this medicine every day and they report that it works wonders in treating Post Traumatic Stress, chronic pain, phantom pain from loss of a limb and a number of related conditions. The Doctors treating these Veterans agree that cannabis is effective in treating these conditions and that it should be made available to these Veterans.. The American Medical Association, The American College of Physicians, The American Nurses Association, The American Academy of Family Physicians and The Federation of American Scientists all recognize medical cannabis as legitimate medicine. Even the Veterans Administration now recognizes Veteran use of medical cannabis. The need for action on this issue is tantamount as for some of our Veterans access to this medicine can be a life or death issue. It has been noted that states with medical cannabis laws in place are starting to experience lower rates of suicide which has been attributed to the availability of medical cannabis. Since the proposal of this resolution one more state has passed legislation authorizing the use of medical cannabis and two states have legalized it’s use for recreational purposes. Civilians can now use it for recreation but Veterans cannot access it for medical needs. Something is unsettling, in the justice system, for our freedom fighters in all 50 united states to not have safe access to medical cannabis. Lastly, we as Veterans are the leaders in our communities and in our nation as well. As leaders we are the ones who can effect needed policy change and as Americans and especially as Veterans we have a duty to do so, in service to our country and in service to our wounded and disabled Veterans.

    State Resolution Veteran Access to Medical Cannabis

    WHEREAS, Medical Cannabis is an effective treatment for the traumatic types of injuries both mental and physical suffered by our Veterans, especially chronic pain resulting from loss of a limb or traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome: and WHEREAS, The efficacy and safety of medical cannabis has been thoroughly vetted by no less than 18 States that allow for it’s use: and WHEREAS, The countries of Israel and Canada have already vetted medical cannabis and provide it to their Veterans for a number of conditions: and WHEREAS, The Federal Government currently provides medical cannabis on a monthly basis to survivors of the Compassionate Care Program: and WHEREAS, The Veterans Administration has an existing official policy on medical cannabis that recognizes Veteran medical cannabis use: now therefore BE IT RESOLVED by the Department of Kentucky Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, that the Federal Government revise its policy on medical cannabis to allow for Veteran Access to medical cannabis to be provided to eligible Veterans thru the auspices of the Veterans Administration. This could be accomplished simply by providing vouchers to Veterans who live in medical cannabis states and by directly providing the cannabis from the Government’s cannabis farm in Mississippi to Veterans who do not live in medical cannabis states as is currently done for the survivors of the Compassionate Care Program, and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Federal Government act posthaste to provide this safe and effective medicine for the care of our Veterans.

  4. Their’s is a commendable Resolution, but the American Legion could have taken a bold stand in support of the Constitution by calling for the textual reform of the federal definition of marijuana. The current definition is contemptuous of the Constitution because it violates the Necessary and Proper clause, and the continued existence of its current format has led to the erosion of the constitutional rights of those people who want to reasonably use the versatile cannabis plant, for the benefit of other “persons”.

    This textual reform of that definition, which exposes its holistic interpretation, will de-schedule the cannabis plant and prepare for the eventual rescheduling of marijuana. By complying with the Necessary and Proper clause, this reform will restore to the veterans’ their severed constitutional rights to grow and reasonably use the plant according to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. As well, it will restore to all of us, cannabis commerce under the protection of the Supremacy clause by preserving the debatable prohibitions in the current definition.

    By clearly describing how marijuana has always been derived from cannabis, a fact which is hidden within that definition, and an act which is unstated in that definition, this reform of that definition actually upholds our Constitution:

    Sec.802.(16). The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L. which is prohibited to be grown by or sold by any publicly traded corporation or subsidiary company.

    This reform also increases the likelihood of the future rescheduling of marijuana, as described by this formula for the “pathway for future legalization”:

    99% * 0.3% * 710 => 420

    The “99%” is the key term. We are the 99%, and this year is a good time for us to support the veterans by telling Congress to start down this pathway.

    See the current federal definition of marijuana:
    http://www.fda.gov/regulatoryinformation/legislation/ucm148726.htm

    Other uses for the plant Cannabis sativa L. are in Sec.7606 on page 264:
    http://www.agriculture.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Farm_Bill_Final.pdf

    What war could ravish, commerce could bestow,
    And he returned a friend, who came a foe.
    Essay on Man – Alexander Pope

  5. Jay B, I’ve seen your ad a couple of times now, I live in Minnesota in which medical marijuana is legal to a certain extent. If you can find a doctor that doesn’t tell you they need more research done before they’ll prescribe it. You can’t grow it or use bud it has to be their derivatives. I have severe spinal stenosis in two spots in my back. Which causes me considerable pain and if I pinch a nerve wrong can be on the ground, not being able to walk, and in so much pain I wish someone would put me out of my misery. I could have surgery in which they’d make me into a stick where I would need help everyday to take care of myself. Marijuana works to help with the pain, depression, stress and anxiety that goes with being disabled it give you a quality of like you don’t get with pain pills. I’ve seen your ad and others like it, If I order from you and get caught having the mailman, ups, fed-ex etc. deliver it, as far as I know I’d most likely be in prison, I’m just really curious, It sounds good. Right now it’s over priced street dealers when you can get it, which has it’s own risks. I’m sixty years old, disabled, and when I don’t have marijuana life sucks big time, and you lose the will to keep going even though you have too. I could move and have been thinking about it but that means leaving family and friends behind. You say you offer door to door delivery. Does that mean an employee of yours will deliver it, so getting busted will never happen? Otherwise you seem to be tempting people into doing something that could make their lives so much worse, by promising to make it better. I wish it was as easy as just ordering it online, so many lives would be improved. I for one am slowly headed towards bankruptcy buying my medicine on the street. $100.00 – $120.00 a quarter oz. here in Minnesota.

  6. Oliver Steinberg on

    Dr. Sisley was fired from her position at a public university in Arizona because she was brave enough to tell the truth about therapeutic benefits of cannabis. I am delighted to see that she is persevering in the cause, and this resolution by the American Legion is a tremendous accomplishment. Thank you, Dr. Sisley!

  7. REV. ADAMS ret. 81 old on

    How many people trying to shut the use of cannabis down for medical use in VA or any other certified medical facility have been in the Service an seen what happens to COMBAT VICTIMS . It’s a COWARDLY act to deny what works for this A great doctor would see an understand. It’s time for the real healers to step up.i was injured in service 61yrs ago been living on pills supplied by VA. Won’t even describe results or down side.the people in AZ shutting down. A Hero Doctor aren’t (HEALING DR) may time heal all those.mistreated

    • I have stepped up. I filed a rescheduling petition for Cannabis with the DEA in 2009. Aug. 11’th, the DEA finally denied my petition. Now I am taking them to the court of appeals to get Cannabis legal at the federal level. Wish me luck.
      Bryan Krumm, CNP

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