Legislation Pending To Expand Veterans’ Access to Medical Marijuana

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), along with Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chairs Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dave Joyce (R-OH), have introduced The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act (S. 1183 / HR 2588), bipartisan legislation to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions.

Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of either of these bills would lift this prohibition.

In previous sessions of Congress, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Posttraumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.

poll conducted by The American Legion showed that nearly 1 in 4 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition and four-in-ten say that they “know a veteran” who is using cannabis medicinally.

Our veterans deserve the option to legally access a botanical product that is objectively safer than the litany of pharmaceutical drugs it could replace.

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