At a convention in Reno, Nevada, five members of the American Legion from Alabama were present as the organization adopted a resolution regarding marijuana. The resolution urges the federal government to let doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to talk about and recommend medical marijuana for their patients. This would only be allowed in states where marijuana is legal.
The author of the resolution is Rob Ryan of Ohio, according to Military.com. He wrote this resolution as Ohio has the 4th highest overdose death rate in the country. West Virginia, New Hampshire and Kentucky are ahead of Ohio.
Ryan said, “Our state congressmen, when the American Legion says something, they listen. Hopefully, this will have the same impact at the federal level. People should not be afraid to go to their doctors and talk honestly.”
The resolution went through three processes at the local, district and state level before being brought to the “main stage” at the convention. Dr. Sue Sisley, who is known for her study on cannabis for PTSD for veterans, was also in attendance.
The American Legion represents about 2-million veterans across the U.S. President Trump also spoke at the convention, saying that the American Legion is a “very powerful organization”. The American Legion has requested meetings with President Trump, hoping that it will nudge his administration’s marijuana policy in a reformatory direction.
VA Secretary David Shulkin is open to viewing new evidence to support marijuana’s potential benefits to veterans.
In 2016, the Veterans Equal Access measure did pass the House portion of the VA appropriations bill by a margin of 233 – 189. It also passed the Senate with overwhelming support following an 89 – 9 vote. However, the final version of the legislation didn’t include the Veterans Equal Access measure.
Dr. Sisley said, “Year after year, we’ve never been able to pass the Veterans Equal Access amendment. With the full weight of the American Legion behind this next round of legislation, I know we can finally get this approved.”
State Commander for the Alabama American Legion, veteran Donna Stacey, wants to know more about medical marijuana and the equal access amendment. She wants to be able to talk to her local congressmen about what the American Legion is working toward and what its priorities are, which includes allowing veterans to use medical marijuana.
Stacey said, “It’s hard to talk about something when you’re really clueless, when all you’re doing is reading about it. When we go to Congress and say, ‘We want you to support us to see if this has any value in treating our veterans’, now we can say we’ve been to a facility where they’re doing some controlled growing. And it gives some added value.”
Wayne Stacy, Donna’s husband, accompanied others on the tour. He’s also an Army veteran and American Legion member.
He said, “We like to be informed. We work with veterans every day, and the more we know about what is out there, the better equipped we are to help them. The more people who are exposed and become more knowledgeable and informed, you can see some changes.”