American Legion to POTUS: Allow marijuana research for vets – Bryan Bender 05/20/2017 07:09 AM EDT


Under current rules, doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot even discuss marijuana as an option with patients.

Former U.S. Marine Mike Whiter, pictured in March 2016, uses marijuana medically to treat his post-traumatic stress disorder. Whiter, who served in Iraq in the mid-2000s, promotes veteran access to marijuana to treat PTSD. | AP Photo

One of the nation’s most conservative veterans’ groups is appealing to President Donald Trump to reclassify marijuana to allow large-scale research into whether cannabis can help troops suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The change sought by The American Legion would conflict with the strongly anti-marijuana positions of some administration leaders, most vocally Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Under current rules, doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot even discuss marijuana as an option with patients. But the alternative treatment is gaining support in the medical community, where some researchers hope pot might prove more effective than traditional pharmaceuticals in controlling PTSD symptoms and reducing the record number of veteran suicides.

“We are not asking for it to be legalized,” said Louis Celli, the national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation for the American Legion, which with 2.4 million members is the largest U.S. veterans’ organization. “There is overwhelming evidence that it has been beneficial for some vets. The difference is that it is not founded in federal research because it has been illegal.”

The Legion has requested a White House meeting with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and close aide, “as we seek support from the president to clear the way for clinical research in the cutting edge areas of cannabinoid receptor research,” according to a recent letter shared with POLITICO.

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