America’s Largest Veterans Group Will Lobby Congress on Medical Marijuana

American Legion Marijuana Cannabis Now

A major veterans organization is pushing for medical cannabis.


The American Legion has endorsed a resolution calling for Veterans Affairs physicians to be allowed to recommend medical marijuana to their patients as a treatment option in states where legal.

The Legion is the largest veterans group in the United States consisting of two million members. The day prior to the resolution last week President Donald Trump called the organization “very powerful” in a speech at its national convention in Reno, Nevada. Despite this, the roadblocks faced by veterans on pushing medical cannabis progress in the halls of Congress seem like many to some and still insurmountable to others.

One combat veteran with decades of cannabis policy and industry experience (who did not wish to be identified) said the people who have pushed this issue for years are worn out from the constant hope for progress being crushed in the midnight hours

“It’s just lip service and has no real bite sadly, we keep getting f*cked over by Republicans when we go to committee and further, they outright block it willfully,” he said. “They ignore us when we go against what the government wants to do. They screw us over, sadly today was once again toothless great headlines, however… People need to call their representatives to get that type of action and we have, only to see it pulled in the 11th hour of the night going nowhere, rinse, lather, repeat.”

Part of this vet’s frustrations centered around his belief that the announcement is just a statement from the Legion with no real backbone. That’s not the case according to Joe Plenzler, media relations director at Legion headquarters in D.C.

“We are actively engaged with the House and Senate on this important issue,” Plenzer said in an email.

With the Legion’s announcement, longtime activists pushing Congress on the cannabis issue as a whole are thrilled to have a fantastic new talking point as they push forward, but the broken heart remembers. While we see pot progress from sea to shining sea, dealing with improving access for veterans is definitely somewhere the right has drawn a line in the sand with many dead efforts to show for it.

In a release on the resolution, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano noted the language is similar to pending legislation in Congress, H.R. 1820: The Veterans Equal Access Act. Also, In July, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24-7 to include similar language as an amendment to the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies appropriations bill. Armentano also highlighted identical language in the House was blocked from consideration by House Rules Chairman, Texas Republican Pete Sessions.

“Majorities of the House and Senate took action last year to expand access,” Armentano said. “It was the actions of a small cadre of Republican leaders who stood in the way of reform by stripping the language away during conference committee. It remains to be seen whether the minority will try once again to stamp out the will of the majority when it comes to providing relief to America’s veterans.”

Advocates are a bit hazy on what exactly the Legion’s effort will mean, especially in trying to keep alive the language Congress is already set to review. Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project wasn’t sure how much sway the Legion carries over the congressional committee (despite being the organization that originally pushed for a federal agency supporting veterans in 1921) but did believe it will certainly be very useful when talking to VA officials “who could let their doctors talk to their patients about medical marijuana by agency policy, or in the halls of Congress pushing legislation to force them to allow it.”

Part of reading the effect on Congress of the Legion effort obviously is having a legislative body with enough stability to get a read for its next actions. Drug Policy Alliance Deputy Director Michael Collins said it’s, “unclear how much it will move Congress (these guys can’t name a post office these days), but it certainly puts pressure on Trump, Sessions, etc. regarding the possibility of a crackdown and will make them think twice.”

TELL US, do you think the Legion’s announcement will result in positive changes for the nation’s vets?

Jimi Devine has been involved in cannabis reform since 2005 and has worked in the Berkeley cannabis industry since 2009 when he moved to California from Lynn, Massachusetts. Currently serving as Staff Writer here at Cannabis Now, you can also find his writings on cannabis products and policy in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Hill, The Chronicle of High Education, GreenState.com, Marijuana.com, 7x7 Magazine, and in Ed Rosenthal's most recent book This Bud's for You. Jimi has a BA in Journalism and Media Studies from Franklin Pierce University.

8 Comments

  1. Mike L. Wallace Jr.

    September 2, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Common sense would suggests illnesses (including cancer apoptosis) relieved & healed by cannabis are caused by cannabinoid deficiency . This would mean recreational marijuana access fights illnesses , prevents illnesses & protects future generations from birth defects & early life illnesses . Legalize marijuana nationwide to take the burden off of healTHCare .

  2. john davis

    August 31, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    People are dying by the dozens from Opioid abuse. Do you think our leaders give a shit????

  3. Stephanie Blaising

    August 31, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    We need the same access as other Americans. We should not be treated any differently. There is a conspiracy against Cannabis which has been shown to be of benefit without serious side effects like the biologics they have wanted to prescribe for me which I refused. Side effects of death, cancer, infection, and others is not something I will tolerate. We also need to be able to access any care that we need. The choice program needs to be upgraded to work the way they say it works. Only in certain circumstances for me. If you need a certain specialist like me and they charge too much, they refuse to pay.

  4. carly

    August 31, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Great idea whose time has come!! Our vets need safe, effective medicine. Do it.

  5. DAN WEBB

    August 31, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    certainly hypocrites doing their best to support big Sharma! I’m a disable vet and I refuse their meds…be damned if I’ll be a zombie! LEGALIZE NOW!

  6. Patricia Schultz

    August 30, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Please help legalized marjuana for the sick. Help us we need it. Please I am begging you. I have had cave now pacemaker n dixieland with so much more. Really help. N yall can do it. So I am asking again please help sincerely Patricia Schultz

  7. Christopher Daniel Jennings

    August 29, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Wow that’s good news I hope our heroes get their medical marijuana legal status in California and Arizona and all over the united states of America. I can’t wait until all 50 states become medical marijuana legal. We have to keep fighting for what is right never give up. Sincerely yours truly believe that Christopher Daniel Jennings.

  8. Charles Sanders

    August 29, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Yes, what is the hold up? Nobody’s died from Cannabis consumption…can’t say the same about liquor, tobacco or pharmaceuticals industry. The hypocrisy sucks!

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