Support the Troops? GOP Blocks VA from Prescribing Medical Cannabis for Vets, Even in Legal States

Saturday, July 29, 2017
By Paul Martin

The House Rules Committee just denied a bipartisan amendment that would have allowed VA doctors to discuss the potential benefits of cannabis with veterans.

By Jay Syrmopoulos
July 29, 2017

Washington, D.C. — The House Rules Committee blocked an amendment by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, from debate. The move to block it from debate effectively prevents Blumenauer from forwarding the amendment during House consideration of the 2018 Military Construction Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

Even though therapeutic cannabis is legal in 29 states, many veterans face significant hurdles to lawfully obtain it, and instead, end up on addictive and deadly opiates and other big pharma solutions.

Because the vast majority of veterans get their health care through the federal VA, their doctors are legally bound from recommending medical marijuana, nor can they certify conditions that would allow them to qualify for a therapeutic cannabis registry card.

Currently, Veterans Affairs policy states:

“It is always illegal under federal law for a veteran to utilize marijuana, regardless of whether there is a state law allowing for use of marijuana. As a result, VA remains consistent whether a veteran is found to have used marijuana through a state-sponsored program or not.”

The amendment would have allowed Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend and discuss medical marijuana with veterans in states where the cannabis has been legalized for medicinal purposes, making it significantly easier for qualified veterans to access legal medical marijuana.

Although the “Veterans Equal Access” measure has been debated and voted on as an amendment to the VA appropriations bill for the past three years in the House, with it passing in 2016, by a 233-189 vote, the move by the Committee precludes that possibility.

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