The American Legion, a group representing 2.4 million U.S. military veterans, has called on Congress to remove marijuana from Schedule 1 of the federal Controlled Substances Act and "reclassify it in a category that, at a minimum will recognize cannabis as a drug with potential medical value."
In a resolution passed at the Legion's annual convention last week, the organization said it hopes that better research into marijuana and an official acknowledgment of its potential medical benefits will hasten the development of new treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, ailments that have plagued veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Legion's resolution, published online by Marijuana.com, noted that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration recently approved the country's first randomized, controlled trial using whole-plant, smoked marijuana to treat PTSD symptoms. That study will be conducted by Sue Sisley, an Arizona researcher who tried for nearly a decade to get a green light for the research but struggled to find an academic institution to sponsor it. The University of Colorado ultimately agreed to fund the research.
During an address at the Legion's convention in Cincinnati, Sisley told members that "veterans are exhausted and feel like guinea pigs; they're getting desperate" and that traditional medications didn't seem to be providing adequate relief to many vets suffering from PTSD.
The DEA recently reaffirmed its decades-old policy of classifying marijuana among the most dangerous drugs, citing its "high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use." That position has faced increasing criticism from federal and state lawmakers, physicians, researchers and even some law enforcement groups.
Medical marijuana is extremely popular with voters: A June Quinnipiac University poll found that 89 percent supported the use of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. A separate survey by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that 68 percent of responding members supported legalizing medical marijuana in their state, and 75 percent said that the Department of Veterans Affairs should allow medical marijuana as a treatment option.
A DEA position paper from 2013 states that "smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science – it is not medicine, and it is not safe."