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In the past seven days, two major developments have transpired on Capitol Hill with regard to veterans’ access to medical cannabis.
First the good news: Senators Bill Nelson and Brian Schatz made history last week with the introduction of legislation, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions, and to fund clinical trial research within the VA. This is the first bill of its kind ever introduced in the Senate.
Now the bad news: Congressional leadership yesterday rejected bi-partisan language in the FY 19 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that would have lifted existing prohibitions that forbid VA physicians in medical cannabis states from recommending marijuana therapy. Members of the US Senate voted 85 to 9 in favor of the Act. Nonetheless, a handful of Congressional leaders removed this important provision at the eleventh hour during the House/Senate reconciliation process.
This cowardly act by a minority of federal lawmakers leaves veterans without the access that is already available to ordinary citizens in medical cannabis states.
It is time that we speak up for the rights of our veterans!
Expanded medical cannabis access is crucial to the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve this country, and are absolutely necessary given the alarming rates of opioid addiction and suicide by veterans.
According to data released this year by the Department of Veterans Affairs, twenty former servicemen and women take their lives each day, while a 2011 report revealed that veterans are twice as likely to die from an opioid overdose compared to the civilian population.
Yet veterans are increasingly turning towards medical marijuana, all while being turned away from their VA doctor.
According to a November 2017 poll by the American Legion, nearly one-in-four veterans reported consuming marijuana “to alleviate a medical or physical condition.”
So send a message today to your elected officials and tell them that now is the time to add their support to ensure that these individuals who protect our nation’s freedoms are not treated as criminals when they return home just for treating their medical ailments with a safe and effective option.