Benjamin Faust

Lawmakers Propose Three Bills Addressing Veterans and Medical Cannabis

Just days after Veterans Day, a bipartisan group of lawmakers announced three new bills aimed at studying and reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical cannabis policies, NORML reports.

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat, announced today he was partnering with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) to propose the legislation package, which includes the following measures:

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs Policy for Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018, which seeks to clarify and codify how veteran patients and their healthcare providers can discuss potential cannabis use. The bill would further protect veterans from losing VA coverage or experiencing other repercussions for being open and honest about their medical cannabis use.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs Survey of Medicinal Cannabis Use Act of 2018, which would result in a nationwide survey of U.S. veterans and VA healthcare providers to better understand the effects and usefulness of medical cannabis.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs Medicinal Cannabis Education Act of 2018, which would establish partnerships between the VA and medical universities on programs covering medical cannabis. These partnerships would be designed to someday result in continuing education programs for healthcare providers.

“Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers. Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana — including our veterans. We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible. … These bills are an important first step towards finding out what can be most successful as treatment options evolve and change.” — Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), in a press release

Current laws make medical cannabis access complicated for veterans because VA doctors, due to the ongoing federal prohibition of marijuana, are unable to write recommendations for state-legal cannabis programs.

“While commendable advances if passed, [Moulton’s] bills fail to include the fix needed most swiftly of VA policy, which would be to allow VA doctors to fill out the necessary state-legal medical marijuana recommendation form in the 33 states that now have laws governing the therapeutic use of cannabis,” NORML Executive Director Justin Strekal wrote in the report.

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