Washington, D.C. - A potentially historic piece of legislation passed the Senate on the eve of Veterans Day, which includes provisions that gives Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors’ the ability to recommend medical cannabis to patients in states where medical marijuana is legal.
The provisions were added as part of an amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee this spring.
“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 Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs 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.”
The Veterans Equal Access Amendment passed Committee in an 18-12 bipartisan vote, with the bill being sponsored by Republican Senator Steve Daines and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley.
The next step for funding the bill is reconciling it with the House version as part of an omnibus spending bill, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.
According to a report from the Drug Policy Alliance:
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In 2002, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in Conant v. Walters the right of physicians to recommend medical marijuana, regardless of its illegality under federal law, as well as the right of patients to receive accurate information. The Daines-Merkley amendment supports that first amendment right and restores a healthy doctor-patient relationship.
The VA currently prohibits its medical providers from authorizing patients to participate in state medical marijuana programs. The Daines-Merkley amendment authorizes VA physicians and other health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions regarding the use of medical marijuana to veterans who live in medical marijuana states.
This victory is just the most recent step in the march towards legalization of medical cannabis in the United States.
Regardless of your stance on wars of aggression in the Middle East, returning soldiers deserve the same advanced medical treatment that other people receive. The usual treatment for PTSD is “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” (SSRIs) which have a notorious reputation, being highly correlated with suicide and killing sprees. Perhaps it is no coincidence that veterans commit suicide at the alarming rate of 22 every day.
However, clinical research shows that medical marijuana is highly effective for treating PTSD, and it does not have the dangerous side effects of SSRIs. Yet medical marijuana has been denied to veterans because of archaic, asinine drug policies.
There is no timeline for when the House will vote on the Senate bill.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has been published on Ben Swann's Truth in Media, Truth-Out, AlterNet, InfoWars, MintPress News, as well as many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.