Veteran Groups Push for Cannabis Reclassification

The TDR Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Veteran groups call for cannabis to move from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3.
  2. The reclassification aims to widen treatment options for veterans.
  3. A DEA decision on cannabis could significantly impact veteran care.

Several veteran groups in the United States are advocating for the Biden administration to lower federal restrictions on marijuana according to a letter obtained by NBC News. This push comes in light of the Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendation to reclassify cannabis from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 3 drug. Schedule 1 drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse with no accepted medical use, while Schedule 3 drugs are considered to have a lower potential for abuse and some accepted medical uses.

The organizations, including prominent groups such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, AMVETS, American GI Forum, the American Legion, Blinded Veterans Association, and the Minority Veterans of America, have highlighted the importance of expanding treatment options for veterans. They emphasize the need for access to a broader array of treatments to address both physical and mental health challenges faced by veterans returning from service.

The current classification of cannabis limits its availability for medical treatment within the Veterans Health Administration, despite its legality for medical or recreational use in over 40 states. The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a policy of not denying services to members who use marijuana in states where it is legal but does not prescribe it as a treatment option.

The push for reclassification is supported by a survey conducted by the American Legion, which found that 82% of respondents support the option of medical cannabis as a federally legal treatment. The call for change also reflects a broader shift in public opinion, with a Gallup Poll indicating that 70% of American adults favor marijuana legalization.

Legislative efforts to reform federal cannabis policy have seen bipartisan support, though a significant package was blocked in the Senate. The veterans’ groups’ appeal for reclassification is part of a wider movement advocating for a reassessment of cannabis’s legal status and its potential benefits for pain management and treatment of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The expected decision from the Drug Enforcement Administration on rescheduling cannabis could pave the way for its integration into the Veterans Health Administration, marking a significant shift in federal drug policy and its implications for member care. The dialogue around cannabis use, particularly for medical purposes, reflects ongoing debates about drug policy, veterans’ health care, and the broader societal and legal frameworks governing marijuana use. Want to keep up to date with all of TDR’s research, subscribe to our daily Baked In newsletter. 

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