Senate Votes to Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana to Veterans

Medical Marijuana Recommendation: A Game-Changer for Veterans

Hey there, fellow cannabis enthusiasts! Today, we’re diving into some exciting news that could make a world of difference in the lives of our veterans. So, grab your favorite strain, roll one up, and let’s talk about the Senate’s recent move to allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans.

The Senate’s Green Signal

If you’ve been following the journey, you know that veterans have faced numerous hurdles in accessing the care they need. But the tides are finally turning. The Senate recently gave the light to a bill that includes a provision allowing VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans residing in states where it’s legal.

Senators voted 82-15 in favor of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilConVA) measure, which includes this groundbreaking cannabis amendment proposed by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). This vote sets the stage for discussions with the , where a similar provision has gained traction.

House vs. Senate: A Slight Difference

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. While both the House and Senate are on board with the idea of VA doctors recommending medical cannabis, the exact language of their proposals differs slightly. This means that House and Senate leaders will need to work their magic to reconcile these differences in a committee.

The 2016 Déjà Vu: If this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In 2016, both chambers had their own versions of the VA marijuana amendment, but the final deal that became stripped this crucial provision away. We can only hope that history won’t repeat itself, and our veterans will finally get the help they deserve.

Breaking Down the Amendment

Let’s take a closer look at the veterans’ cannabis provision as passed by the Senate:

  • None of the funds appropriated for the Department of Veterans Affairs may interfere with a veteran’s participation in a state-approved medicinal marijuana program.
  • VA doctors won’t be allowed to deny services to veterans participating in such programs.
  • Healthcare providers within the VA can make appropriate recommendations, fill out forms, and assist veterans in complying with state marijuana programs.

The House’s Take on It

On the House side, they have their version of the MilConVA bill, which includes its own amendments related to VA doctors and medical cannabis. It’s encouraging to see both chambers working toward a common goal, even if they have to iron out some details along the way.

Patty Murray’s Message: Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) weighed in, highlighting the need for cooperation between the House and Senate. She emphasized the importance of addressing the needs of our families and urged House Republicans to get on board with the spending agreement they negotiated.

A Race Against Time

The clock is ticking as federal agency funding is set to expire on November 17. Lawmakers approved a short-term extension in September, but the pressure is on to get these crucial bills through.

A Standalone Solution

Interestingly, the veterans cannabis amendment achieves the same goal as a standalone bill filed on the House side by Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The Veterans Equal Access Act has been introduced multiple times with bipartisan support but has yet to become law.

Deep Concerns Over VA’s Directive

In August, bipartisan lawmakers expressed deep concern over the VA’s updated marijuana directive, which continues to prohibit doctors from making medical cannabis recommendations to veterans in legal states. This stance is particularly alarming given the VA’s latest clinical guidance on PTSD, which advises against using medical cannabis.

Veterans’ Voices Matter: Many veterans have turned to cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs, reporting improved quality of life and reduced use of certain medications, including opioids. The VA’s guidance on cannabis use has evolved over time, with the 2017 version encouraging VA doctors to discuss veterans’ marijuana use.

Blocked Bills and Ongoing Efforts

While the veterans cannabis amendment has made , it’s worth noting that other measures have faced obstacles. These include efforts to prevent federal applicants from being drug tested for marijuana and advocating for psychedelics research.

VA Home Loan Benefits Clarification

On a positive note, the House Appropriations Committee attached a report to a spending bill that clarifies veterans’ eligibility for VA home loan benefits, even if their income comes from state-legalized cannabis activities.

Progress in the Senate

In the Senate, lawmakers passed defense legislation in July that prevents intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA from denying security clearances solely based on past marijuana use. However, some cannabis proposals, like allowing medical marijuana use by veterans, did not advance as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

A Ray of Hope

Despite some roadblocks, progress is being made, and the cannabis industry is gaining momentum. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that our veterans will soon have the access they deserve to medical marijuana recommendations from VA doctors.

In Conclusion

In the ever-evolving world of cannabis legalization, change is the only constant. As we await the outcome of the House-Senate negotiations, let’s remember the brave veterans who have been advocating for this change. Together, we can make a difference in their lives and provide them with the care they need and deserve.

Thanks to Kyle Jaeger for reporting this crucial development in the cannabis world. Now, let’s roll one up and stay tuned for more exciting on the intersection of cannabis and veterans’ . Cheers!

Rosemary Puffman
I'm Rosemary, a staunch supporter of cannabis legalization and its potential benefits. My roles as a writer, cannabis entrepreneur, and informed investor allow me to contribute to the evolving narrative around cannabis. Through my writing, I aim to destigmatize and educate, while my business ventures and strategic investments align with my belief in the positive impact of responsible cannabis use.

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