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Medical Marijuana Amendment Added to VA Appropriations Bill

Veterans could soon be able to talk to their Veterans Affairs doctors about using medical marijuana after the Senate Appropriations committee approved an amendment to the fiscal 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies appropriations bill, the Military Times reported.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) would let VA doctors discuss marijuana as a potential treatment and recommend use in states where it is legal.

So far, there has been no research in the U.S. on whether or not marijuana is effective in relieving symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disordeer, but a Feb. 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges that while “marijuana use by individuals with PTSD may result in short-term reduction of PTSD symptoms…continued use…may lead to a number of negative consequences.”

The VA recommends “evidence-based” practices to treat mental and physical health issues such as PTSD, depression and pain. In January, 19 Democrats and two Republicans wrote to VA Secretary Bob McDonald pushing to allow VA doctors to discuss and recommend marijuana.

A similar amendment was approved by the Senate in the fiscal 2016 VA appropriations bill but was pulled from the final version of the law. The amendment would also prohibit the VA from using funds to interfere with veterans’ ability to participate in medicinal marijuana programs.

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