Veterans suffering from PTSD and other crippling illnesses for which cannabis has been proven to help may soon have some relief. The US Senate Appropriations Committee just approved a measure on Thursday, April 14, that would allow VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis veterans.
The provision arises out of an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, authored by Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
If enacted, the bill would prohibit the government from spending funds to enforce a current rule preventing VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana to patients. The new provision is meant to provide medical cannabis access to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and other conditions that may benefit from marijuana treatment. Under the bill, VA physicians would no longer risk penalty for discussing the option of medical cannabis treatment with patients, or for completing the necessary paperwork to register patients in state medical cannabis programs. Currently, even VA patients in medical cannabis states cannot receive recommendations from their physicians. The House version of the bill should be on the agenda in May. If both chambers approve the amendment then the odds of it being included in the 2017 are substantially improved.
Kudos to the lawmakers who understand that our disabled veterans need straight talk with their doctors and access to cannabis. A big thumbs down to Senator Richard Burr, of my home state of NC, who voted “No” on the measure. Fellow North Carolinians should contact Senator Burr to tell him that his vote disrespects veterans. Here’s a link to his contact information.