The new bill introduced to Congress on Wednesday seeks to ensure that veterans do not lose their benefits based on their participation in medical marijuana programs. However, this does not mean that the current bill denies the veterans their benefits, but the new one would ensure no future administration or policy could change that.
With the new bill introduced by Greg Steube (Florida Congressman who is also a veteran himself), physicians would also be allowed to recommend medical cannabis to patients.
Military veterans will be fully protected from losing federal benefits for cannabis use in the future in states where marijuana has been legalized.
The new bill will not only protect the current policy but also pave the way for VA doctors to discuss the cannabis use with veterans and accordingly adjust medical treatment plans and record cannabis use in medical records.
Besides, Seth Moulton (Massachusetts representative) is also planning to introduce a package of bills in the coming weeks that will allow VA physicians to discuss cannabis as a treatment option to opioids.
“I feel that this bill is awesome as it protects the right for veterans and generally enshrines the current bill, to ensure that the policy remains intact even in future,” said Cheri Hill, retired Air Force veteran.
She also confessed openly how medical marijuana has helped her to overcome anxiety, PTSD and other ailments.
“For me, medical marijuana was a game-changer as it makes a dramatic difference,” said Hill.
However, marijuana use is still illegal under federal law, thus Hill understands that most of her veterans are not comfortable with being openly mentioned on marijuana use.
The current policy makes it hard for veterans to get marijuana as it prohibits VA doctors from recommending it to them or even helping them access it.
“VA health care providers lack the ability to help veterans get through the registration process, but there is also the aspect of financial constraints,” Hill said.
However, despite that more than one in five veterans use cannabis for medical ailment treatment according to an American Legion survey.
The medical treatment plan has helped Hill to minimize the use of prescription pills in managing ailments.
According to a recent report by the Department of Public Health, veterans in Massachusetts are three times more likely to die of an opioid overdose as compared to the rest of the population.
Finally, the new bill is important because even if the current policy offers protection for marijuana use in states where it is legal, there is still a huge fear out there that things might suddenly change since the federal government considers it illegal. This would strip them of the benefits of marijuana use at any time.