American Legion Leaders Push for Marijuana Law Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Leaders of the American Legion continue their push to reform marijuana laws.

It comes amid a groundswell of advocacy from veterans who believe the drug has great potential to treat everything from PTSD to pain. 

American Legion members from across the country gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday as the group presented its legislative priorities to Congress.

That includes reclassifying marijuana to allow more research into potential medical benefits. 

Louis Celli with American Legion says, "There are so many veterans out there that are suffering from chronic pain, that are suffering from symptoms of PTSD."

Celli says some veterans getting encouraging results from marijuana.

Much of the evidence is anecdotal because marijuana's classification as a "schedule one" drug prevents widespread medical research in the United States.

"So much red tape that they have to try and transverse through in order to try to get permission to study it, in many cases it's just not worth it for them," says Celli.

The American Legion is working with lawmakers on a bill to reschedule marijuana to open up more testing. 

Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) says, "I would support that".

Roe is chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. He's also a doctor who says increased research is needed to provide physicians with key information about marijuana. 

"I as a physician, when I pull my pen out should know the risks and benefits of that and so should the patient," says Roe. 

Advocates say marijuana could provide help to veterans dealing with a variety of issues.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says, "Everybody here knows that this country faces a major opioid epidemic".

The deadly consequences hit veterans particularly hard, which is another reason why the American Legion is pushing for alternative treatments like marijuana.  

In 2015, state lawmakers passed the Healthcare Transparency Initiative. 

It requires providers to put all of their claims into one database. 

In 2017, state lawmakers added a new component to the system, linking data from certified medical marijuana patients to healthcare claims.

Arkansas is the only state doing this. 

The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement still needs funding approval.

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