Medical Marijuana

The American Legion Wants Marijuana Reclassified to Help Treat PTSD

How much do politicians really care about veterans' health?


katherine_hitt via / CC BY-ND

These aren't your filthy hippies and stoners looking for an excuse to toke (not that there's anything wrong with that!): The American Legion is calling for the federal government to reclassify marijuana to acknowledge its potential benefits as a medical treatment.

As Jacob Sullum previously noted, The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is stubbornly refusing to change the federal classification of marijuana as a drug that has no "accepted medical use" until science proves them wrong. Fortunately they're easing off on the Catch-22 situation that has resulted in this classification making it extremely difficult for researchers to perform the very scientific testing that could determine marijuana's medical value.

One of the potential medical values of medical marijuana is as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And in what must certainly at this point make it abundantly clear where the majority of Americans stand on marijuana use, the American Legion has just voted at its national convention to support a resolution calling on Congress to legislatively reclassify cannabis and place it in a category that recognizes its potential value.

The resolution, readable here at, highlights a number of important statistics that have helped push the Legion to support it. Across two years, the Department of Veterans Affairs have diagnosed thousands of Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans as having PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). More than 1,300 veterans in fiscal year 2009 were hospitalized for brain injuries. And the resolution notes that systems in the brain can respond to 60 different chemicals found in cannabis.

Therefore, the American Legion wants the DEA to license privately-funded medical marijuana and research facilities and to reclassify marijuana away from being lumped in with drugs like cocaine and meth.

Tom Angell over at notes that Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist and medical marijuana researcher, has been lobbying the Legion and their local posts to get their support. Sisley is notable for actually getting federal permission to research marijuana as a treatment for PTSD and then getting dumped by the University of Arizona (where she worked) in 2014.

What does this mean for a legislative effort to give VA docs permission to actually talk about medical marijuana as a treatment for veterans? As I noted in May, there was an amendment to a military appropriations bill that would end a gag order that prohibits VA doctors from recommending or even discussing medical marijuana treatment with patients, even in states where it had been legalized. The amendment would end the gag order, but wouldn't permit the VA to prescribe or pay for marijuana.

The amendment passed the House and Senate, but as Angell notes, after the two sides went through the reconciliation to hammer out any difference, the language completely disappeared. It is no longer part of the Veterans Administration package.

Legislators return to session today to hammer out last-minute spending bills to keep the government running (and the Democrats and Republicans are currently in disagreement on how long to extend spending authorizations for the incoming administration). Technically the amendment's language could be restored.

NEXT: Washington Post and Matthew Sheffield Dig a Deeper Hole While Grudgingly Correcting Clumsy Falsehoods About Reason (UPDATED)

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  1. I’m sorry, but we can only support the troops so far. As former military men they have to acknowledge that, once you take a hill, it’s hard to keep it if you start to retreat down any of its slippery slopes.

    1. Now, all we need to do is to get Mylan to get an FDA-issued monopoly (after Mylan pays the appropriate moneys for bribes, ooops, I mean, campaign contributions for the political masters of the FDA; read; Congress), and THEN Mylan can charge $600 for a twin-pack of dual “Doobies” (joints). All this can happen only ***AFTER*** all appropriate campaign contributions have been paid IN FULL!!!

  2. The amendment passed the House and Senate, but as Angell notes, after the two sides went through the reconciliation to hammer out any difference, the language completely disappeared.

    Why do you hate democracy?

  3. “I knew you couldn’t trust those hippies in the Legion!”


  4. They should lobby for the decriminalization of MDMA, too: that’s an even better substance to treat PTSD.

    1. I had a rather lengthier comment I was going to post, but that was all it would have said.

    2. Yeah, MDMA assisted therapy seems really promising. I guess it can help people to recall their traumatic memories without having the panic/stress reaction that normally happens.

    3. DMT is where it is at. /wiki/N,N-Dimethyltryptamine

  5. No they don’t care about veterans’ health. Understand, they routinely give these guys some of the most nasty and powerful psychiatric drugs in the name of treating PTSD. Meanwhile, if they are active duty and so much as smoke a joint and come up hot on a drug test, the military will put them out with an other than honorable discharge and leave them with no healthcare whatsoever even for service related injuries. Understand, you can go overseas and lose both your legs and come up hot for pot and the military, assuming they can get a administrative separation board to agree and they often can, can put you out with no VA benefits whatsoever for any injury service related or not.

    This should be one of the biggest scandals in the history of DOD what they are doing to these guys and how badly they are being treated. But hey, pot is evil and if Congress doesn’t look out for the big drug companies who will? Those campaigns are not going to fund themselves and wives and junior are not getting a big paying job on K street or at a drug company on their own merits.

  6. “Cannabinoid receptors, located throughout the body, are part of the Endocannabinoid system which is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.[1]”

    We have cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. Does the DEA not understand what that means?

    The DEA refusing to admit that cannabis has a medical use–despite the fact we have evolved cannabinoid receptors in our bodies–is like a fundamentalist preacher-man insisting that there’s no genetic pathway for men to inherit a sexual attraction to men–despite having nipples on his chest.

    If the x-chromosome gives men nipples, then they can inherit other features from their mothers, too

    And if our bodies have cannabinoid receptors, then cannabis must have a medical use.

  7. I blame Harry Anslinger. 70 years on and marijuana is still the devil’s weed.

    1. Officially. Very few people actually believe it anymore. Hell, no one really believed it when Schedule 1 was invented in 1970.

      I can’t quite decide what the reason for the insane treatment of cannabis is. I suspect either (or some combination of):
      – Some people juse really hate hippies
      – Drug companies are afraid of a safe, effective drug that people can easily make themselves
      – “Gentlemen, we need to protect our phony baloney jobs” attitude from those making tons of money off of prohibition. If weed were legal, the prohibition racket would be a lot smaller.

      1. I believe that some Nixon-era documents have finally been released that shed light on this. MJ was kept illegal because of hatred for the hippies. Heroin because of the blacks.

        While I used to scoff at the drug company conspiracy thing because of my suspicions that MMJ was hippie bullshit (not that that justified prohibiiton), it turns out that MMJ is actually a thing.

        Also, the tobacco companies.

      2. It greatly expanded the police’s ability to fuck with undesirables (blacks, Latinos, poor whites, young people.) Not the whole story, of course, but the persistence of pot prohibition is not inertia, but official malice.

        1. That’s true too. Police will pretty much come out and say it too. “We need weed to be illegal so we can stop people smoking weed and bust them for other crimes”.

        2. but official malice.

          This, I will try to remember to use that in the future.

          1. but official malice

            Also, great band name.

            1. Malice was a precursor of The Cure. A US metal group used the name, once the Limeys were done with it

              Should Trump adopt Killing An Arab as a campaign tune?

              1. Probably not. Donalds hair looks even limper in comparison to Robert Smith.

      3. I think there is some of the “oh my God the hippies are going to smoke this stuff and drive” going on but that is not the real cause. It is the drug companies.

        If pot were ever legal, there wouldn’t be much money to be made from it. Yeah, there is some value added and growing it is more than just planting the stuff but it is basically just advanced gardening. You don’t need a graduate degree or a bunch of expensive equipment to grow pot. So the profit margin on legal pot is going to be nothing like what it is with pharmaceutical drugs.

        I really believe pot would be a cheaper and safer alternative not in all cases but in a significant number of cases where the person is using pain pills or anxiety meds now. So legalized pot would cost the drug companies big.

        It would also cost the alcohol industry big. Not everyone likes pot but a good number do and would and it doesn’t mix well with alcohol. If pot were legal, people would drink less and that would cost the alcohol industry a fortune.

        I think the drug and the alcohol industries are behind it more than anything.

        1. Yep. Baptists and bootleggers is a thing. I’ve actually seen it in person.

          When my county in North Texas was getting rid of the last vestiges of the old “dry” system, which limited where liquor stores could be, the opposition was, you guessed it, the local Baptists and the existing liquor store owners.

          1. AT the national level, the Baptist don’t have much juice. The alcohol and drug industries however have a ton of influence. They are the ones keeping it from being used even under proscription.

        2. And don’t forget the drug treatment industry. Not as big as Pharma or major alcohol producers, but they are a huge direct beneficiary of the drug war.

        3. Its a weed. Usually the challenge is stopping them from growing.

      4. I’m in favor of legalization. Hell, I’m in favor of legalizing all illegal drugs, and setting up purity standards. That said, I have serious doubts about the “marijuana is a safe, effective drug to cure nearly everything” narrative. I’ve watched that since I first became interested in politics , in the mid ’70’s, and it’s never struck me as particularly convincing. It’s to damn pat. That the Drug Warriors are wrong about marijuana in every important particular does not make it without a downside. I just think the downside won’t be anything like as bad as the downside of prohibition.

        1. I don’t think “not having a downside” is, or should be, what we require out of things we deign legal. If the govt is gonna insist on outlawing any drugs (which, I agree, it really shouldn’t), relative effects are exactly what matters.

  8. Look, they fought for freedom, but freedom has limits. Without limits on freedom, there would just be anarchy. And if there was anarchy, they would have to help fight it.

    Do you really hate the brave men and women in the military enough to force them to fight in a war of choice over choices?

  9. RE: The American Legion Wants Marijuana Reclassified to Help Treat PTSD

    Nothing could further from the truth. MJ should never be allowed in our socialist slave state. Such an evil weed would only ensure further comfort for people who have put their lives on their line in a combat zone. These veterans should trust The State and be limited to only the medication prescribed to them by people who have never felt the ravages of war. Plus, ingesting MJ only allows the little people who fight our ruling elitist turd’s war a choice they should never be able to make. The lowly plebian class does not have choices in any good workers paradise. That right of choice is wisely reserved for their benign socialist slave masters. Lastly, allowing veterans, indeed, anyone, the right to use MJ as a tool of comfort only makes the user forget who is ruling over them for their own good. MJ is a notorious substance that allows the user to ease their pain, forget their woes and be happier than they were a while ago. Therefore, it would be wise to those in the Politburo in Washington, DC to discontinue the unwashed masses who have suffered in the wars our ruling elites so kindly sent them to remind them who is the masters are and who is the slaves are.

  10. Good on the AL but good luck convincing the DEA and the loser politicians. Just look at the recent articles on this site talking about the DEA’s pending reclassification of kratom, a plant many people use for pain relief. The DEA is out of control and needs to be defunded/abolished.

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  12. Simply repealing that gag order is honestly kind of a joke. The feds are going to maintain that using marijuana is a super double serious felony…but certain doctors, directly on their payroll, can encourage a certain class of people to go commit that felony, but only in states that say it’s not a felony (not that that matters according to the feds)? It’s just an absurd situation created by insisting on just chipping away at the tiniest sharp edges of marijuana prohibition instead of actually enacting reform.

  13. Why doesn’t the DEA have to prove it’s point, that it “has no medicinal properties”? Cannabis has been used as a medication for over 2000 years, what makes the DEA think they’re right? Cannabis use, abuse(?) and addiction(?) is a medical condition, NOT a criminal act. Criminalizing a medical condition IS a criminal act.

  14. Two things. First, there is in fact research demonstrating the medicinal uses of cannabis. There is no evidence whatever that cannabis fulfils the scheduling requirement of being unsafe for use even under supervision of a physician. And research isn’t really necessary in the case of something so fundamentally obvious anyway: the fact that it stimulates the cannabinoid receptors of the body is enough to rationally determine there is some medicinal use; the only thing that would nullify this would be if there was any evidence of some other infernally toxic component, which there isn’t. Second, methamphetamine and cocaine are classified as less dangerous and are less restricted than cannabis under the narcotics act.

  15. You have got to be kidding me! Who’s next, the Salivation Army?

  16. Olivia . I can see what your saying… Matthew `s storry is great, last tuesday I bought a gorgeous BMW M3 since I been earnin $9756 this last month and-a little over, 10/k this past munth . without a question it is the most-financialy rewarding Ive ever done . I began this 7-months ago and practically straight away earned more than $71 per hour . More Info..

  17. before I saw the paycheck which had said $4647 , I have faith that my mom in-law woz like they say realie taking home money part-time at there labtop. . there moms best frend has done this less than six months and just now repayed the mortgage on there home and got a great new Ford Mustang . more tips here ..

  18. People that see a problem with pot should see a HUGE problem with BOOZE too!! #eyeswideshut #Idontgetit

  19. “War on Drugs” Lol.. oh quit it, more like money hungry Pharma and power hungry cops. Stop hiding behind your badges and licenses, your doing the same shit. #eyeswideshutpeople #I’llnevergetit

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