The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved bipartisan bills that would increase access to state-legal medical cannabis for military veterans and expand research into the potential medical benefits of cannabis for conditions commonly diagnosed in veterans.
The committee approved the Veterans Equal Access Act in a 15-11 vote and approved the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act in a voice vote with no opposition.
The Veterans Equal Access Act (H.R. 1647), sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would allow physicians and other healthcare workers employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical cannabis in compliance with state laws and fill out any forms necessary to certify patients for a state medical cannabis program.
The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act (H.R. 712), sponsored by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct clinical trials researching the health outcomes of using medical cannabis to treat chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
A 2017 study by the American Legion found that veterans overwhelmingly support federally legalizing medical cannabis (83%) and support research into medical cannabis (92%). To date, 33 states and Washington, D.C. have effective medical marijuana programs.
“Today’s committee vote is an encouraging step forward for federal cannabis reform. Now that a majority of states have legalized cannabis for medical use, it is indefensible to restrict veterans’ ability to access medical cannabis through their VA providers while members of Congress can use their federally subsidized health insurance to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their doctors. Federal law should not criminalize veterans for trying to find relief.
“Passing these bills should be the first order of business for a Congress that prides itself on supporting our veterans. Like every American, veterans should be granted the freedom to access cannabis to treat their medical conditions as an alternative to potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals.”, stated Don Murphy, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project.