Medical marijuana for vets to be highlighted during Rolling Thunder event

Motorcyclists make their way up Constitution Avenue in Washington on Sunday, May 28, 2017, during the 30th anniversary of Rolling Thunder.



WASHINGTON — Advocacy for veterans’ access to medical marijuana will play a part this weekend in what’s being promoted as the final Memorial Day ride for Rolling Thunder.

Veterans Cannabis Project, which lobbies for easier access to medical marijuana, partnered with Rolling Thunder’s primary sponsor, Harley-Davidson of Washington, D.C., to host a free barbecue and concert that aims to rally support for marijuana advocacy.

Veterans Cannabis Project wants Congress to declassify marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs, which are designated as having no medical use. The classification restricts federal research and prevents doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs from recommending or prescribing it.

“We know that chronic pain and [post-traumatic stress disorder] are two major contributing factors to veteran suicides, and we know that medical cannabis can be a much safer and even more effective treatment than the cocktail of pills the VA often prescribes us,” Doug Distaso, director of Veterans Cannabis Project, said in a news release.

The concert runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday before the main “Ride for Freedom” event Sunday, during which thousands of motorcyclists ride through Washington to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Artie Muller, the founder of Rolling Thunder, Inc., announced in December that the group would no longer hold its annual Memorial Day ride after 2019. The 32-year tradition is ending, he said, because of escalating costs and a lack of cooperation from the Pentagon and metropolitan police departments.

Rolling Thunder is a nonprofit organization that honors prisoners of war and servicemembers missing in action. Its ride through Washington every Memorial Day weekend draws thousands of riders and onlookers.

The ride starts at noon Sunday, with a program near the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The concert supporting Veterans Cannabis Project will be held Saturday at Harley-Davidson of Washington, D.C., in Fort Washington, Md. The country music duo Montgomery Gentry is scheduled to perform at 4 p.m.

Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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