Cannabis Classification Called into Question by American Legion


The Ninety-Eighth National Convention of the American Legion, attended by thousands of people, was host to an historic event. The federal government’s biggest and most powerful veterans organization, with more than 2 million members, has passed a resolution asking Congress to “amend legislation to remove marijuana from schedule I and reclassify it in a category that, at a minimum, will recognize cannabis as a drug with potential medical value.” The organization was propelled forward by its concern over the current veteran opium epidemic and high suicide rate due to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Marijuana has been reported to be extremely effective for treating PTSD and the traumatic brain injuries often sustained by veterans.

The Placeholder Cannabis Classification That Stuck

The American Legion wants alternatives to dangerous opioids for PTSD sufferers.

Their decision comes about a month after the DEA decided against rescheduling the plant from its current cannabis classification as a Schedule I drug. This classification is reserved for the most dangerous and high risk drugs. During the Nixon administration, when all illicit substances were being classified, the classification was created as a placeholder. The Schafer Commission conducted the report, recommending a classification for each substance. They recommended that marijuana should not be a Schedule I drug and that it may not even qualify as an illicit substance at all. Unfortunately, the Nixon office left the cannabis classification as it was and it has been the same ever since. The history regarding the prohibition of marijuana is filled with racist, political and financial motivations. There has never been any indication whatsoever that the plant was harmful or not medicinal in any way.

A Snake Eating Its Own Tail

The DEA now claim that they will not change the cannabis classification because they have no federally authorized scientific proof that cannabis is medicinally beneficial. They have no proof because they have outlawed all scientific research on the medical benefits of marijuana for many decades now. While the DEA continues to uphold prohibition, they have loosened their grip on allowing medical research to be conducted. This bit of progress will at the very least allow some scientific facts to govern marijuana policy in the future, not just the interests of corporations or social political agendas.

Echoes of the American Legion Decision

The American Legion’s demand for reassessment of cannabis could result in other reliable organizations following suit.

With the American Legion now demanding more research to be done and reclassification to occur, it is likely to influence many other organizations and members of Congress to take a similar stance. Mike Liszewski of Americans for Safe Access has been responsible for talking to many lawmakers regarding a change in marijuana policy. He told, “For years, many of the Congressional offices that have been hesitant to vote in favor of medical marijuana reform have asked if groups such as the American Legion have weighed in. With the American Legion joining the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in supporting federal medical marijuana reform, it will be increasingly difficult for Congressional leadership to continue blocking efforts to expand research and move marijuana out of Schedule I.”

Dr. Sue Sisley is one of the first federally approved researchers who will be studying the effects of marijuana on people with PTSD. She has been the key instigator for getting the American Legion to back a move towards marijuana reclassification. There has been a desperate cry for years now to help those who sacrifice themselves for the safety of the country, now suffering from deep physical and psychological wounds. Sisley’s hard efforts have gone towards helping our country’s veterans. She was a key speaker at the convention and told, “It seems highly unanimous among American Legion members that we owe it to the veteran community to demand end to the barriers to this kind of cannabis research.” After 2 years of lobbying the American Legion to review the subject of medical marijuana and endorse her research, her focus and persistence is finally paying off.


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