House Approves GOP Spending Package To Include Medical Marijuana Access For Veterans

Zinger Key Points
  • U.S. House members approve amendments to a spending bill that allows VA doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations to veterans.
  • The amendment was a result of bipartisan collaboration.

U.S. Congresspersons Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) successfully passed their bipartisan amendment in the Republicans' Veterans Affairs spending package.

This amendment would end the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) prohibition on assisting veterans in accessing medical marijuana.

VA policy currently prevents providers from recommending, making referrals or completing forms for medical marijuana, regardless of whether the state the veteran resides in has legalized it for medical use. 

"One of the most painful vestiges of the failed war on drugs is the continued denial of the therapeutic properties of cannabis," said Blumenauer in a press release shared with Benzinga.

Blumenaur is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. "Nowhere is this more apparent than at the VA, which use to hand out opioids like Tic-Tacs but bars providers from even discussing a far safer alternative to treat chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety and depression: medical cannabis."  

Mast agreed. "As I was recovering in Walter Reed, I was put on a laundry list of prescription medications. Thankfully, I was able to quit those cold turkey, but not everyone can do the same. Our veteran population is facing multiple epidemics, including addiction and suicide, and we owe it to them to make sure they've got every tool possible in the arsenal to deal with the impacts of battle — that includes medical cannabis."

Joyce, the son of a World War II veteran, said he was proud to join his colleagues to help veterans access medical treatment.

“We should all be resolved to help expand access to treatments for the medical challenges — both mental and physical — our nation's veterans experience. I am glad to see this amendment pass the House to help eliminate barriers for alternative treatments and provide our veterans with the care they need to overcome the wounds of war," Joyce said.

Also a co-chair of the caucus, Lee wrapped up the comments.

"As we continue experiencing the throes of the opioid crisis ravaging communities across the countries — from urban centers to rural areas — the hands of VA physicians should not be tied when it comes to advising around medical treatments that are scientifically proven to be less harmful and addictive, like state-legal medical marijuana. I am proud to co-lead this amendment and thank my fellow Cannabis Caucus Co-Chairs Mast, Blumenauer and Joyce for their partnership on this important matter," Lee said.

The amendment, which passed the House 290-116, would prohibit funds appropriated for the VA in fiscal year 2025 from being used to enforce the agency's anti-marijuana policy. The amendment is based on Blumenauer and Mast's Veterans Equal Access Act.

Photo: Shutterstock

Market News and Data brought to you by Benzinga APIs
Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsPoliticsTop Storiescannabis recommendationsHouse of RepresentativesVAVeterans
Benzinga simplifies the market for smarter investing

Trade confidently with insights and alerts from analyst ratings, free reports and breaking news that affects the stocks you care about.

Join Now: Free!

Cannabis rescheduling seems to be right around the corner

Want to understand what this means for the future of the industry? Hear directly for top executives, investors and policymakers at the 19th Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, coming to Chicago this Oct. 8-9. Get your tickets now before prices surge by following this link.