Veterans Press Congress For Medical Cannabis
Recently, the House Committee governing Veterans Affairs met and passed two long sought after bills concerning medical cannabis for veterans.
H.R. 712, also known as the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, was sponsored by Lou Correa, California Rep. and approved in a winning 15-11 vote. The gathered committee approved H.R. 1647 also known as the Veterans Equal Access Act as well. sponsored by Earl Blumenauer, Oregon Rep, in a unanimous vote. Both bills now head to the House for a traditional floor vote.
For years Veterans and veterans groups have demanded research on the benefits of medical cannabis for the common conditions that many veterans currently face, like chronic pain, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and protections to openly discuss cannabis with their current VA doctor. However, since the Department of Veterans Affairs is a federal agency, many veterans in states with legal medical cannabis laws have met with doctors who outright refuse to discuss the benefits of medical cannabis and some have threatened the cut off their benefits entirely.
In a survey published in 2017, an 92% of respondents support medical cannabis while 83% were in favor of legalization of medical cannabis on a federal level.
Most veterans have long supported the VA participating in research related to medical cannabis and currently believe that it is more than reasonable to approach the research with the patient in mind. Yielding new evidence and scientifically-backed actionable findings can only help shine a light on the benefits of cannabis for our nation’s many veterans.
Various committee chairs and representatives oppose such amendments, suggesting these initiatives would gut the intent of the VA by preventing its use until cannabis can be rescheduled.
But the supporters far outweighs the staunch opposition. Many point out that bills such as these do not force various VA clinicians to prescribe, dispense, or even recommend medical cannabis. What it does do however, is opens the door for doctors to have candid discussions with they patients regarding treatment options and allow these veterans to participate in already state approved medical cannabis programs, protected from the fear of losing VA health care or benefits.
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