On the eve of Veterans Day, the Senate passed a bill, The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which will allow Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal.
“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 a U.S. military veteran.
With the Senate approving one element in the bill, supporters say it is time for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on the full bill. The bill now has to be negotiated with the House’s version as part of a federal spending bill.
“Veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor,” said a spokesperson 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.”
Currently, the VA prohibits its doctors from helping its patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding participation in state-legal medical marijuana programs.
There are many federal healthcare programs other than the VA, – such as Medicaid and Medicare – but only the VA prohibits doctors from recommending medical marijuana to patients.
“The politics around marijuana have shifted in recent years, yet Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley hasn’t held a hearing on the bill,” said a spokesperson for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We will move the CARERS Act piece by piece if we have to, but now is the time for the Senate to hold a hearing on the bill as a whole.”