U.S. Senate Approves Bill to Give Veterans Access to Legal Medical Cannabis

The United States Senate today passed the FY2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill, which includes language that would allow Veterans Administrationva (VA) doctors to recommend medical cannabis to their patients in states where medical cannabis is legal.

“Veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor,” says Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “It makes no sense that a veteran can’t use medical marijuana if it helps them and it is legal in their state.”

The Veterans Equal Access Amendment was introduced with bipartisan support by Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. The funding bill will now be negotiated with the House’s version as part of an omnibus spending bill.

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U.S. Senate Committee Votes to Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Cannabis

vaIn a historic vote, the U.S Senate Appropriation Committee has approved an amendment to a federal spending bill that would allow Veteran Affairs (VA) physicians to recommend medical cannabis to their patients in states where the medicine is legal. The vote was 18 to 12.

The Veterans Equal Access Amendment, added to the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, is sponsored by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). Specifically, it would undo a 2009 directive barring VA doctors from recommending medical cannabis, even in states where its legal.

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Federal Amendment Announced to Allow Veterans to Use Medical Cannabis

This week, when the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider an appropriations bill related to military construction and Veterans Affairs, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)medcan plans to offer an amendment to make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical cannabis. The amendment will be cosponsored by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

“While there is no single approach to aiding our nation’s veterans, medical marijuana is proven to help in treating post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries frequently suffered by veterans,” said Congressman Blumenauer in a Monday press release. “States are listening to their residents on the benefits of medical marijuana, including veterans, and are changing their laws. It is unacceptable for our wounded warriors to be forced out of the VA system to simply seek a recommendation on whether or not medical marijuana is a good treatment option. We should not be preventing access to medicine that can help them deal with these injuries to survive and thrive. I encourage my colleagues to show compassion to our veterans and pass this amendment.”

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