A Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment on Wednesday that is meant to enable military veterans to access medical marijuana - by allowing Veterans Affairs (VA) physicians to grant recommendations in states where it is legal.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), is also intended to prevent the VA from interfering with or denying services to vets who choose to participate in their state’s legal program.
“We have now 36 states that have medical cannabis, and our veterans want to know from their VA doctor what their thoughts are on the pros and cons or appropriate role or challenges of this particular strategy for treating a variety of issues, including PTSD,” Merkley said, per Marijuana Moment. “I think it’s really important that we not force our veterans to be unable to discuss this issue with their doctors.”
Eric Goepel, founder and CEO of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition, noted that the language of the measure effectively combines the intent of Rep. Earl Blumenauer's (D-OR) Veteran Equal Access Act and more recent legislation seeking to codify the Veterans Health Administration Directive 1315, which bars VA physicians from taking punitive actions against veterans for disclosing their cannabis use.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs has opposed every single proposed cannabis-related reform bill, however, which calls into question whether they will implement the language in the amendment,” Goepel, a U.S. Army veteran of the Iraq War, told Benzinga.
'Necessary But Insufficient'
“Being an amendment attached to an appropriations bill also means that it will have to be reauthorized annually. Ultimately, this is a stop-gap measure until Congress ends federal cannabis prohibition,” Goepel added. “It is necessary but insufficient in the face of more than 100,000 veterans dead by suicide and overdose since 9/11.”
Más contenido sobre cannabis en Español en El Planteo.
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