The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an amendment that would force the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to allow veterans access to medical marijuana in states where it is legal. The vote was 24-7 in support of the legislation.
In 2015, an attempt to stop the VA from restricting access to veterans was attempted, but was rejected in the House, according to LA Weekly. In 2016, an amendment made it through both the House and Senate, but the House Appropriations Committee stripped it at the last minute.
Montana Republican Steve Daines said, “The amendment ensures that veterans have equal access to all of the medical options available in their local community, to include medical marijuana in states where it is legal.”
Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority said, “It has an excellent chance of passing the Senate, as it did last year. Unfortunately, last year, the conference committee stripped the language when reconciling both chambers’ bills, something we will be working extra hard to prevent this year. I think the increase in support in the Senate committee, plus the new state laws coming on board, is an indication we are well-positioned.”
Paul Armentano of NORML said, “Given the rising level of both public and political support in favor of medical cannabis access, particularly for veterans — coupled with the increasing lobbying efforts from veterans’ groups like the American Legion and AMVETS — I would not only anticipate members of the House and Senate to once again approve this reform legislation but also to do so in greater numbers than last year. The question that remains, however, is whether high-ranking Republicans or the Trump administration will respect this vote, or will they turn their back on the needs of veterans and the will of the overwhelming majority of voters.”
The VA opposes medical marijuana. A VA fact sheet says, “There is no evidence at this time that marijuana is an effective treatment for PTSD.”
Dana Rohrabacher said, in 2016, that, “Americans have found relief in regulated medical marijuana. These include stroke victims, epileptics, veterans afflicted with post-traumatic stress and those suffering from the effects of chemotherapy, among many other health-related issues.”