“The American Legion respectfully requests a meeting with President Trump as soon as possible and looks forward to partnering with this administration in the fight against narcotics addiction and reducing the veteran suicide rate from the tragic loss of 20 warriors per day, to zero,” the letter reads.
The Legion is asking for “support from the president to clear the way for clinical research in the cutting edge areas of cannabinoid receptor research,” according to a letter sent last month to the White House and recently shared with the media, reports Andrew Blake at The Washington Times.“It’s time the federal government took action to remove barriers to scientific research on this very important subject,” said Joe Plenzler, director of media relations at the American Legion, reports Bruce Kennedy at The Cannabist.
Federal law defines marijuana as a Schedule I substance, which means in their view it has “no currently accepted medical use” and is as dangerous as heroin. Rescheduling cannabis under the federal Controlled Substances Act would remove current restrictions on research. It would also possibly reverse the staunchly anti-marijuana stance of the federal Department of Veteran Affairs.
The current situation is so bad, physicians employed by the VA can’t even say the word “marijuana” when talking about treatment options with their patients. Instead, they are forced to keep the money flowing to the same Big Pharma companies which contribute heavily to political campaigns by prescribing dangerous, highly addictive prescription painkillers and anxiety medications, reports The Fresh Toast.
“Even if a state in which a provider practices has a legalized medical marijuana program, federal law prohibits Department of Veterans Affairs physicians from prescribing medical marijuana and from completing forms/paperwork necessary for patients to enroll in State medical marijuana programs,” the VA told Politico on Friday.
“VA will not provide for use or conduct research with illegal substances regardless of state laws,” the department’s statement rather snippily concludes.
“We are not asking for it to be legalized,” Louis Celli, the American Legion’s national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation, reports Bryan Bender at 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 Veterans of Foreign Wars apparently still hasn’t sprouted a pair, as they seem to be afraid to join the Legion in taking a stand for veterans. “The VFW has no official position regarding this ongoing debate because marijuana is illegal under federal law,” said Joe Davis, the group’s spokesman.The move comes as the Trump Administration’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has been consistently sending anti-marijuana signals. Beyond that, Trump himself felt it necessary to add a “signing statement” earlier this month to the appropriations bill he signed. Trump signaled in the signing statement that he may decide to ignore the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which bars the Department of Justice from interfering with state laws allowing the medical use of cannabis, reports Jacob Sullum at Reason.com.
“Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories,” Trump said in the signing statement. “I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The implication is that Trump’s so-called “duty” to enforce the federal ban on marijuana, which makes no exception for medical use, could compel him to disregard the bill’s limits on the use of DOJ money.“We desperately need more research in this area to inform policymakers,” said Sue Sisley, M.D., a psychiatrist at the Scottsdale Research Institute in Arizona who is running one of the only cannabis studies underway focused on vets suffering from PTSD, reports Politico.
“I really want to see the most objective data published in peer reviewed medical journals,” Dr. Sisley said.“Donald Trump continues to send mixed messages on marijuana,” says Michael Collins, deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “After stating during the campaign that he was ‘100 percent’ in support of medical marijuana, he now issues a signing statement casting doubt on whether his administration will adhere to a congressional rider that stops DOJ from going after medical marijuana programs.
“The uncertainty is deeply disconcerting for patients and providers, and we urge the administration to clarify their intentions immediately,” Collins said.