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IN: What Some Veterans Want This Veterans Day - Medical Marijuana

Ron Strider

Well-Known Member
It's Veterans Day. Banks are closed. People don't receive their mail. And military veterans have myriad options to eat free at restaurants as a thank you for their service.

But the American Legion, a major organization of 2.4 million veterans, wants those who served to have access to something else: medical marijuana.

The Indiana American Legion chapter announced Thursday it will push the Indiana General Assembly to legalize medicinal cannabis.

They're not alone. The national American Legion organization wants the federal government to reclassify marijuana so the plant can be studied and to also allow Veterans Affairs doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients in states that allow it.

Advocates say medicinal cannabis can treat nerve pain and post traumatic stress disorder, among other things.

The American Legion boasted the results of an independent survey that found overwhelming support for pot in polled veteran households

•83 percent think the federal government should legalize medical cannabis.

•More than 9 in 10 support research into medical cannabis.

•97 percent of polled 18-45-year-olds support federally legalized medical cannabis.

•About 8 in 10 age 60 and older support federal medicinal cannabis legalization.

Marijuana reform has a chance in Indiana next year. Republican lawmaker Jim Lucas backs medical marijuana and will push his legislation in 2018.

Lucas, who is a Marine veteran, cited marijuana as a possible treatment for PTSD and as a way to curb opioid overdose deaths.

But opposition in Indiana exists. In the last week alone:

•Gov. Eric Holcomb said he's against medical and recreational marijuana. He's reported to have said, "At this time right now, I’m trying to get drugs off the street, not add more into the mix. So, I’m just not supportive of that."

•A coalition of county prosecutors came out staunchly against medical marijuana. The organization said in a statement that marijuana is "wrong for Indiana."

•The Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse voted to oppose recreational and medical cannabis efforts.

Nathan Bayne is an Evansville Air Force veteran. He served 2006 to 2012 across the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan. He's an outspoken supporter of not just medical marijuana, but full on legalization.

The majority of Hoosiers want it, he said, but unlike other states like California and Colorado that had citizen ballot initiatives and referendum get marijuana laws changed, Indiana has no referendum process, so it's left up to state lawmakers.

"We fought for the right to vote, but Indiana citizens don't have the right to vote on referendums, and that's something that needs to be overturned. ... It sucks to come home and not have a voice," he told the Courier & Press.

Surveys show most Hoosiers want to see the state change its pot laws.

A 2016 WTHR/HPI poll found 3 out of 4 Hoosiers support medical marijuana. In 2013, 52 percent of Hoosiers supported regulating pot like alcohol, according to a Ball State University study.

Seven states and Washington D.C. allow recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, including three of Indiana's neighbors: Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. At least 21 states allow marijuana prescriptions for PTSD.

But even if Indiana opens up its cannabis laws, that doesn't mean veterans can be prescribed marijuana by Veterans Affairs.

The VA has a notice on its website reminding veterans and VA employees that, while several states and localities approve of recreational and medical marijuana, the federal government does not, so don't expect VA clinics to prescribe cannabis.

Marijuana is a schedule 1 drug in America, which means the government believes it has no medical value and has a high risk of abuse. That also means research into pot's medicinal effects is limited.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said during a May 31 press briefing said nothing will change with the department until federal law changes.

"There may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful. And we're interested in looking at that and learning from that. But until the time that federal law changes, we are not able to be able to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions that may be helpful," Shulkin said.

News Moderator: Ron Strider 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: What some veterans want for Veterans Day: medical marijuana
Author: Zach Evans
Contact: Contact Us | Evansville Courier & Press
Photo Credit: Lucas Carter
Website: Evansville News, Sports, Weather, Business | Courier & Press
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