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 Administration (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.
“On this eve of Veterans/Armistice Day where we remember those who served in the military and the treaty agreement to reach peace concluding WWI, we see this victory as a step toward a peace treaty with the government we volunteered to defend with our lives and as a step toward restoring our first amendment rights and dignity as citizens of the United States, ” said TJ Thompson, a disabled Navy veteran.
Currently, the VA specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding participation in a state medical cannabis program. The approved bill would authorizes VA physicians and other health care providers to provide recommendations on the use of medical cannabis to veterans who live in medical cannabis states.