Despite copious amounts of evidence that medical marijuana can help treat a number of conditions, there are large swaths of the population who are refused access to cannabis. One group in particular that could benefit from medicinal cannabis but is prevented from doing so is military veterans. But if one veterans' organization has its way, that could change very soon.
The American Legion, which represents more than two million veterans, passed a resolution asking the federal government to allow doctors to recommend and prescribe medical marijuana for former soldiers. Even though medicinal cannabis is legal in 29 states, all clinics and hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs are not allowed to prescribe marijuana-products because it's illegal at the federal level. Legion member Rob Ryan, who authored the resolution, said he's repeatedly heard from veterans that they'd like access to marijuana as opposed to highly addictive opioids, which are currently described by VA doctors.
The Legion is possibly the most influential veterans' organization in the United States. President Donald Trump spoke to the American Legion national convention on Wednesday, one day before they passed the resolution on medical marijuana, and referred to the group as "a very powerful organization."
In May, Veterans' Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said he was open to allowing veterans access to medical marijuana based on recent research. And last year a "Veterans Equal Access" amendment, which would allow veterans to be prescribed medicinal cannabis in states where it's legal, was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but it ended up getting cut from the final version of the Department of Veterans' Affairs budget bill.
America already has a checkered history of providing adequate healthcare to veterans, and preventing soldiers from accessing medical care that's legal doesn't help that reputation. We'll see if President Trump, who's repeatedly spoken about his support of veterans, will step up on this issue.