On Friday, January 20th, 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as President of the United States. If current plans hold, Senator Jeff Sessions, an unrepentant drug warrior, will become his Attorney General; the top law enforcement officer in the country. That poses a major problem for states where recreational and/or medical marijuana is legal. President Obama has less than two months to take preemptive action in conjunction with Congress to protect marijuana’s status nationwide. The political timing couldn’t be better. The American Legion, the nation’s largest veteran organization, recently passed a resolution calling for Congress to reschedule marijuana to allow needed medical research to take place.
The American Legion has over two million members nationwide and is not only the largest veteran organization in the United States, but the world. They’ve also developed a reputation for being a staunchly conservative group over the years. Supporting removing marijuana from its current Schedule 1 status doesn’t fit with their history. It’s a welcome change though, and a sign that they put their members first, and politics second. Hundreds of thousands of veterans nationwide have used marijuana for medical purposes over the years. The drug helps many veterans treat their ongoing PTSD in ways that traditional medications have been unable to. Many describe it as a miracle drug.
After the 2016 election, medical marijuana is now legal in twenty nine states across the country. But, at the federal level, there is still an outright prohibition of its use. If the federal government wanted to, they could crack down on medical marijuana providers and patients across the country. The same goes for recreational users. This misalignment in federal and state government law needs to be addressed as soon as possible. President Obama has less than two months before Trump takes office and appoints drug warrior Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.
There have been a few bills floated over the past few years to address this inequity. One of which that recently gained some traction was sponsored by Rand Paul. The bill eventually fell short, but it would have fixed this problem, and still could today. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act, or the CARERS Act, would have met the American Legion’s ask for Congress to reschedule marijuana and more. The bill would remove marijuana from Schedule 1, eliminate federal interference in states that have legalized marijuana, allow states to set their own drug policy, and even allow the VA to prescribe medical marijuana.
That bill died in the Senate over a year and a half ago. Now is the perfect time for it to be reintroduced. With the American Legion’s support for rescheduling marijuana, and twenty nine states having legalized medical marijuana, support for the bill will be much easier to garner this time around. This bill must be passed in the next two months if veterans, and medical marijuana patients around the country, want to be able to protect their medicine. The President and Congress must act on this issue before the next administration takes power.