Medical cannabis – benefits for veterans – h.r. 1647
A bill with a promising passage was recently filed by Congressional Cannabis Caucus founder Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon for the Veterans Equal Access Act, which would remove current restrictions on Veterans Administration (V.A.) doctors around medical cannabis.
Physicians working within the V.A. are particularly forbidden from writing a prescription or recommending anything related to medical cannabis due to the current state of affairs. In turn, this forces veterans to seek services and recommendations from physicians outside of the V.A. medical network and spend money from their own pockets. Thankfully, if Blumenauer’s H.R. 1647 passes it will eliminate that ban.
Blumenauer introduced the bill March 14th and said, “For too long, our veterans have been denied access to highly effective medical marijuana treatment for conditions like chronic pain and PTSD. Medical marijuana has shown proven benefits for treating these conditions denying our veterans access to them is shameful. This simple bill would align veterans’ VA treatment with their very popular state laws, usually approved by the voters. This legislation would guarantee our veterans fair and equal treatment, along with the ability to consult with their own physician on all treatment options. It’s past time we provide them with the care they need and deserve.”
Currently, the leadership in Congress is the most welcoming towards cannabis since Blumenauer began in 1996. Formerly, dealing with House Republicans constantly preventing all things that would have achieved H.R. 1647’s goals, such as, in 2016 Congress passed approval for veterans to have access to cannabis as part of the military’s 2017 budget. However, the Republican leadership of the House Appropriations Committee decided to decline it in the final stages.
Veterans have access to programs that assist with costs for their medical cannabis habit, since even in the legal states a doctor is required to approve recommendation. Disabled vets with a fixed income find it more difficult to find affordable access to medical cannabis. In certain states the cost can range up to the hundreds for a doctor signed medical marijuana card, here in California its roughly $40. According to the veteran organization, American Legion, that reported in 2017 a quarter of its membership used marijuana to deal with a physical condition. It also gathered that 92% of veteran households support research into the effectiveness of medical cannabis for mental and physical conditions.
We plan to keep an eye out for the passage of H.R. 1647, let us know if you agree with veterans having access to medical cannabis through the V.A.