The issue of the use and legalization of medical marijuana continues to be debated among many in society but on Thursday, the largest veteran organization, the American Legion has adopted a resolution on Thursday urging the federal government to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to discuss and recommend medical marijuana in states where it’s legal.
As it stands now, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is required to follow all federal laws regarding marijuana use and many veterans and the American Legion have called on President Trump to support the measure.
The resolution, passed at the group’s national convention in Reno, Nevada, was authored by American Legion member Rob Ryan of Blue Ash, Ohio.
According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio has the fourth highest rate of overdose deaths in the nation, behind West Virginia, New Hampshire and Kentucky. It’s also one of the 29 states that permit some form of cannabis use. Ryan said he’s heard from veterans “over and over and over again” who use marijuana as an alternative to addictive opioids.
“Our state congressmen, when the American Legion says something, they listen. Hopefully, this will have the same impact at the federal level,” Ryan said. “People should not be afraid to go to their doctors and talk honestly.”
Ryan shepherded the resolution through his local American Legion post, and then took it to the county, district and state level before it was discussed in Reno this week. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist studying marijuana’s effects on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, called it a “game changer.”
The American Legion represents 2 million veterans nationwide. As President Donald Trump spoke Wednesday at the convention, he described the group as a “very powerful organization.”
The American Legion first acted in support of medical marijuana last summer, when it decided to put its weight behind an effort to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs to allow for more research. Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD and Ecstasy, and are designated as having no medical use.
The group has also requested meetings with Trump with the intention to ask him to change his administration’s policy on cannabis.
In May, VA Secretary David Shulkin said he was open to new evidence showing marijuana could be used to treat veterans. But VA policy implemented in 2011 prohibits its health care providers from sharing their opinions with veterans about marijuana or recommending it for medical use.
Attempts in recent years to lift that prohibition have failed in Congress.
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Israel is becoming a center of American medical marijuana production and research, as U.S. companies move their grow houses and R&D operations to the Jewish State. It is much easier to conduct medical trials on drugs made from cannabis in Israel than it is in the U.S., where companies must spend several years getting approval from federal agencies to even do basic research on marijuana.
In 2016, the ever first study on licensed medical marijuana users occurred in Israel in which the study revealed that 99.6% of patients applied for the drug after conventional medications had no effect. The report shows that even though most users benefit immensely from marijuana treatment, the cannabis also causes side effects among an overwhelming majority – 77% – of users.
More than 77% said they experienced side effects from the cannabis. 61% of users complained of dry mouth, another 60% of hunger pangs, and 44% said the drug made them “high.” Another 23% reported sleepiness, 28.6% fatigue, 32% red eyes, and 13% blurred vision.
Still, only 6% stopped taking cannabis either because of side effects or complaints that it was not effective, which is no different than other traditional medications that has side effects.
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