The United States House of Representatives today gave approval to an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill that is intended to ease access to medical cannabis for veterans suffering from a variety of medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar amendment to its version of the bill last month.
The amendment, introduced by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Joe Heck (R-NV), would prohibit the spending of funds on enforcement of a Veterans Health Administration directive that prohibits VA physicians from recommending medical cannabis to their patients, even in states that have made it legal.
“Prohibiting VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana does nothing to help our veterans,” says Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Current VA policy is preventing physicians from thoroughly monitoring patients’ medication decisions and engaging in frank conversations about available treatment options. It dramatically undermines the doctor-patient relationship.”
If enacted, VA physicians would no longer face penalties for discussing medical cannabis with their patients or completing the paperwork patients must submit in order to participate in state medical cannabis programs.
“This measure removes unnecessary barriers to medical marijuana access for the men and women who have volunteered to serve in our armed forces,” Capecchi said. “It will save veterans time and money, and it will allow them to have more open and honest discussions with their primary care providers.”