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Indiana’s American Legion pushing for medical marijuana usage for vets

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Leaders at the American Legion Department of Indiana are starting an effort to get state lawmakers to re-consider their position on medical marijuana during the 2018 Indiana General Assembly.

In 2016, the National American Legion announced its supported the usage of medical cannabis for veterans as a treatment option. Earlier this year, the Indiana office also supported the measure.

“A lot of veterans are prescribed opioids for their pain," said Williams Henry, the American Legion Department of Indiana's adjutant.

The American Legion believes veterans and their families see a growing number in suicides and death because of a lack of safe medical alternative treatment options, such as medical marijuana.

The American Legion plans to announce more Thursday at a press conference, including findings of a recent independent survey commissioned by the National American Legion organization. The study is about veterans' and veteran caretakers' support for medical cannabis research.

Part of the plan leading up to next year's session is to get more Hoosiers to contact lawmakers and let them know their stance on the issue.

Indiana NORML, Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis, and AMVETS Department of Indiana will join the American Legion in Thursday's announcement.

“We have an overwhelming majority of support in this state for medical cannabis. Almost 80 percent of our people, if not more, support this issue," said David Phipps, the communications director at Indiana NORML. “The thing is only a very few are willing to get involved and speak out.”

Indiana's American Legion has already posted more information on its website regarding the issue. Click here to read more.

On Wednesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb said the issue was not part of his agenda for 2018.

"We’re not there in this state and at this time right now," the governor said, who wants supporters of the measure to direct their efforts to the FDA, adding the state won't look at the issue until it has changed its thoughts on the drug. "I’m trying to get drugs off the street not add more into the mix and so I’m just not supportive of that."

Holcomb also said he wants to see Indiana attract more service men and women after their time in the military comes to an end.

Supporters of medical cannabis said that can only happen with a new look on the drug. “I believe we are losing veterans every day to our neighboring states who are offering this to are citizens," said Henry.

Indiana's American Legion said it supports the use of privately funded medical cannabis production operations to enable safe and efficient cannabis drug development research.

It also urges the removal of cannabis from Schedule I and reclassify it in a category that, at a minimum, will recognize cannabis as a drug with potential medical value.