The Trump administration’s attack on legal marijuana, already stymied by large states determined not to roll back the clock, is increasingly confronting an even more politically potent adversary: military veterans.
The 2-million-member American Legion this spring got involved in a big way by launching a campaign to reduce marijuana restrictions, which it says hurt veterans and may aggravate a suicide epidemic.
The move reflects the changing politics of marijuana, and of a conservative, century-old veterans service organization facing new challenges as its membership grows with those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the same time, some patients complained that Veterans Affairs doctors refused to offer any advice for using medical marijuana yet also made a record of who was using it, raising fears that such information might be used to punish former service members or strip their benefits.
The legion’s call to reclassify marijuana federally from a drug that has no medical benefit and is more dangerous than cocaine to one that is in the same category as legal prescription painkillers has caught the attention of lawmakers.
The measure is among the veterans-related marijuana legislation getting new traction at an otherwise challenging time in Washington for pot advocates.
Longtime marijuana proponent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, an Orange County Republican, constantly raises the issue of veterans on the House floor.
Such thinking is driven by a 2015 National Bureau of Economic Research white paper that found opioid overdose deaths are 16% lower in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions is pressing Congress not to renew a rider that prohibits federal law enforcement from targeting medical marijuana operations in states where they are legal.
Army veteran and triple-amputee, Jose Martinez, of Los Angeles, Ca. and other veterans and supporters of medical marijuana march to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the White House to bring awareness to the need to legalize medical marijuana.
Even in states where marijuana is easily available, veterans find themselves self-treating complicated illnesses, often with little more guidance than that offered up by the bud-tender at the point of sale.
Source: LA Times