(November 2, 2017) The opioid crisis in America is having a disproportionate impact on our veterans. According to a 2011 study of the VA System, veterans routinely contend with poorly-treated chronic pain leading to increased suicide risk. Additionally, veterans are twice as likely to succumb to accidental opioid overdoses, and traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) remain leading causes of death and disability.
Many veterans suffering from PTSD and chronic pain – especially those of the Iraq and Afghanistan generation – have told The American Legion that they have achieved improved healthcare outcomes by foregoing VA-prescribed opioids in favor of medical cannabis. While the stories of these wartime veterans are compelling, more research must be done in order to enable the American people to have a fact-based debate on future drug policy.
The latest public opinion polls show that more than 80% of the American people and 92% of veteran households support medical cannabis research.
Here’s the problem: because the federal government lists cannabis as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act, it is almost impossible for medical professionals to conduct research on the drug. (All of the opioids contributing to the current crisis are Schedule II drugs or lower.)
In September 2016, at the Legion’s National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, Legionnaires passed Resolution 11 to urge the Drug Enforcement Agency to license privately-funded medical marijuana production operations in the United States to enable safe and efficient cannabis drug development research, and urge 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. We’re not alone. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found significant evidence for the efficacy of cannabis in treating chronic pain, reducing spasticity in MS patients and reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea.
In August 2017, at the Legion’s National Convention in Reno, Nev., Legionnaires passed Resolution 28 calling on the Federal government to allow medical providers within the Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss medical cannabis as a treatment option in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Here’s the bottom line: veterans are suffering; the government is standing in the way; and we need your help to convince Congress to act.
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