Natalie Maguire

Senate Approves Medical Cannabis Protections for Veterans

U.S. Senators voted 86-5 on Monday in favor of legislation that establishes protections for veterans seeking state-legal medical cannabis therapies, according to a report by Marijuana Moment‘s Tom Angell. The measure was added to legislation funding large parts of the federal government, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, through the fiscal year 2019.

Specifically, the provision protects veterans who want to participate in a state-legal medical cannabis program by denying the use of all funds for the following purposes:

(1) interfere with the ability of a veteran to participate in a medicinal marijuana program approved by a State;
(2) deny any services from the Department to a veteran who is participating in such a program; or
(3) limit or interfere with the ability of a health care provider of the Department to make appropriate recommendations, fill out forms, or take steps to comply with such a program.

These provisions are not present in the House’s version of the legislation because House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) has consistently blocked any cannabis-related legislation from consideration in that chamber.

The House and Senate now must reconcile the legislation’s differences in a bicameral conference committee. If the medical cannabis protections survive that process, it would be a huge stride forward for veterans suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, and opioid dependency.

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