Top American Legion officials continue to call for medical cannabis research

Matt Saintsing
February 23, 2018 - 2:47 pm

Photo by Matt Saintsing for Connecting Vets


Top leadership at The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, continues to call on the federal government to allow and conduct research into medical marijuana.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Denise Rohan, the Legion’s national commander, spoke about the need the country has to provide the very best benefits possible to veterans, including marijuana research.

In response to a question about the Legion’s stance on cannabis, Rohan said “we have to find replacements for the opioid epidemic we have in this nation.”

“We just need to know that the American government is focused on trying to find cures for not only veterans, but for all Americans,” added Louis Celli, the national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation at the Legion.

“And if cannabis, which is a drug, is something that can help, they have to do the research to do that.”

The Legion has been out-front on this issue, including having passed multiple resolutions on medical marijuana and hosting a press conference last year, calling on Congress to act. 

Last November, The Legion commissioned a national survey that showed overwhelming support for medical marijuana research and legalization among the veteran community.

The VA updated their guidance on cannabis in December, in a directive that permits doctors and pharmacists to begin discussing marijuana use with veterans that participate in state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs.

But, despite vast support among vets, Celli said they’re hearing “stories from veterans who live in states that have legal cannabis programs, and they’re participating in those programs with a feeling of inner guilt.”

Understandable, since marijuana is still a federally illegal schedule I drug, and many veterans wish to be compliant with local, state and federal laws.

And, while they may, in fact, be using marijuana, Celli said, they feel like they’re on “the wrong side of the law.”