Senate Committee Overwhelmingly Passes Veterans Equal Access Amendment

Marijuana medicineToday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24-7 to include the Veterans Equal Access amendment as part of the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which would expand much needed medical marijuana access to our nation’s veterans.

Presently, V.A. doctors in states where cannabis therapy is permitted are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a medical cannabis recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician.

Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications to treat conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction on a scale of post-traumatic symptom scores following cannabis therapy. This is why, in recent months, two of the largest veterans’ rights groups — AMVETS and the American Legion —  have resolved in favor of patients’ access to cannabis therapy.

The amendment was introduced by Senator Daines, R-Montana for the second year in a row. Last year, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

The 24-7 roll call was an increase over last years 20-10 appropriations passage. The changes came from Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) all voting “aye” after having voted against the effort last year and both new members of the committee, Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) voting in favor.

Identical language is expected to receive a vote in the House later this year. Keep an eye on NORML’s Act page for that and other changes.

Author: Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director

You can follow me on twitter @justinstrekal

38 thoughts

  1. Yes that is a step in the right direction we just have to keep calling government officials the white house even takes your call and listening to your opinions

    1. This is fantastic. A much needed change. I was referred to the substance abuse program at the Atlanta VA when I told my psychiatrist for the 1st time that cannabis improved my PTSD, anxiety, and allowed me to sleep. I am a combat veteran that served during the deadliest year for all coalition forces in Iraq-2007. I was Airborne Infantry-2/504 of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, so sleep is a problem most nights. The shrink gave me a plastic cup to go fill.

      1. @Blake,
        Thank you for your service. Dont let the VA know anything until this bill passes.
        There are a variety of good cleansers on the market, I suggest you use them before each visit.
        Continue to consume the whole plant therapy you need. Try different strains; Indicas at night and sativas during the day are a nice veteran’s choice blend. Its called nonviolent civil disobedience. You earned it.

      2. When’s the VA going to get their act together?
        Each Clinic has their own ideas and haven’t learned the old regulations yet, much less the new ones!. In fact it’s hard getting prescription drugs that are not on their list of approved brand prescriptions. Especially if you go to an out-of-network doctor, and they write you a prescription and it’s the only one that works for you. Can you imagine trying to get cannabis what you’ll have to go through???

      3. Fuck that shit. 3/504 vet and my back is fucked after 50+ jumps, humping heavy ass ricks for days on end. The va gives me pain meds but, if I piss hot they treat me like a drug addict.hang in there bro, things are gonna change

      4. As a 60 year old Veteran rated permanent and total @100%, losing use of BOTH arms Painfully and slowly it’s not pretty seeing me cry with agonizing searing burning pain… Sleep is a crap-shoot and TO THINK that the United States Department of Health & Human Services since 2003 (15 YEARS!) has had a U.S. PATENT on POT !!! 6630507, & allows a European company (G.W. PHARMACEUTICALS) to market the DRUG SATIVEX plus more & more patents…. Now, for Neuroprotectants, they CAN CHANGE MY LIFE but… schedule 1 says pot has NO-MEDICAL-USE… Lives ruined, fellow Brothers & Sisters DAILY PUNCH OUT due to pain pain pain & more PAIN, YET, my government would CRUCIFY ME, for growing a PLANT !!!! WHY? WHY? WHY? am I even writing this ???? It is “INSANITY” & “INHUMANE” to treat THOSE THAT GAVE this way… We need 5 to 6 million Vets at D.C. asking WHY…… Breaks my heart to KNOW how MILLIONS of Lives could be SAVED if not for the GREED, LYING, USING, COLD, CALLOUSED BASTARDS THAT THEY ARE… Liquor, Shooting HEROIN or Fentenol in front of ems, cops, fireman & ALL WITH “NARCAN” READY just so the individual DOES NOT DIE & they come back over and over..in my AMERICA… The irony is enough to cause “INTENTIONAL-INFLICTION-OF-EMOTIONAL-DISTRESS” hourly, daily, monthly YEARLY and 15 YEARS…. bummed but hopeful that this very DANGEROUS FARCE can be ruled on by the UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT. … someday, somehow, someway.
        Much Peace&LoveWORLDWIDE to all my military FAMILY…. I LOVE EACH & EVER ONE OF YOU…

  2. Huh? Jeff Sessions’ calm before the storm, waiting to see if Congress removes the Rohrabacher-Farr language and then order a STASI-style crackdown using RICO shit? Destined to fail, as the nobody gives a shit and you can’t arrest your way out of avoiding legalization. Weed is here to stay for the long haul, Sessions. Your time in office will be up sometime. Just let legalization happen.

    https://merryjane.com/news/attorney-general-sessions-makes-no-mention-of-marijuana-during-nevada-visit

    1. That’s what I’m sayin; What are the odds the RB amendment is going to pass in September? After Nevada’s performance? I give it a 9 out of 10 chance.

      Now what are the odds beyond that when California legalizes their market next year?

      “Well I say, I say, Foghorn-Sessions, if ya wanna be a drug warrior ya gotta catch you some DRUGS!”

    2. You’re hyperventilating. Since you’ve brought politics into the mix, how come Obama didn’t prod the Democrats to resolve this? The dems controlled the House and Senate for 2 years, with a Democrat in the Oval Office.

      1. Oh sweet Jesus, read the news on this blog from those years! President Obama only had a Democratic Congress during his first two years when polling on recreational legalization was still just below %50 until after his reelection in 2012. Besides, he had health care reform to pass and an economic stimulus package to save our auto industry from Republican predators like John Paulsen and our entire deregulated economy… (credit due to Bill Clinton on that one but Bush using our mortgage debt from China to secretly pay for his war with Iraq really put the polish on the crisis, didnt it?)

        After 2012, when polling went above %50 in favor of legalization, Obama signed the Cole memos to the DOJ, without which we would not be talking about state marijuana legalization at ALL. Fox and Friends didnt tell you that one either, did they?

        BTW, I know its only been 7 months, but how’s the all-Republican controlled Federal Congress and Presidential administration of government doing on health care and marijuana reform? Any major break-throughs?

  3. What might happen if we all followed Mr. Holderbaum’s advice and started voicing our pro-legal (and anti-Sessions) opinions not to each other but our Prez? Plenty, if there were enough of us. Make your voice heard where it counts! Go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact and tell THE MAN what you think. It’s not only easy, but fun! And don’t forget to tell your friends….

    1. It’s a good link for the individual to express yourself. Thanks for posting it.

      Trump’s style is divide and conquer, as opposed to Obama’s style which was along the lines where if there are enough e-signatures he would publicly address the issue, although Obama did just laugh off legalization dismissively. I do, however, appreciate the baby steps we got out of his administration that led to calling off the federal dawgz.

      I followed the link to the site, and it is not a petition expressing the pro-cannabis direction the cannabis community wants the feds to go.

      There is strength in numbers, and the cannabis community needs to keep coming together en masse so that we can bring about a peaceful Bastille Day of our own of sorts to get all the cannabis prisoners out of jail, records expunged, and just plain old stop the prohibitionist incarceration and criminal justice cycle people like Jeff Sessions advocate.

      I realize that health care for all in a western industrialized country is a priority. We’re basically headed for universal health care, which is NOT necessarily the same as single payer. Inaction that keeps cannabis in Schedule I basically relies on scientific assumptions going back to 1937, Trump, Sessions.

      “The Americans will always do the right thing… After they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.”

      – Winston Churchill Quotes
      http://www.military-quotes.com/churchill.htm

  4. I’d really have to say I would more tend to agree with George Noory of coast to coast am that the young people today and our military are not great like the previous generations. They come back with sort of failing the country and failing the military. Military come return claiming Traumatic stress syndrome and other conditions and the recent wars are not yesterdays wars of global conflict and serious ground conflict.
    Personally I’d have to give the military a not great opinion.

    1. What does TB stand for? “Treasonous Bitch?”, “Tuberculosis?”
      How dare you get on a blog reporting a small victory to provide whole plant cannabis to the veterans of our country with PTSD who need it most and dump your villanous, poisonous propaganda blaming the youth of our generation and the military on morally bankrupt wars often funded by the same predatory institutions that are addicted to prohibition such as Big Pharma and Defense Contractors!
      You sir, have no concept of honor and in this case, of American pride.
      Legally regulated whole plant marijuana may be the cure for your regurgitated cable-news infection. Take two puffs and write me in the morning.

      1. Correction: your “am-radio talk show infection”. Although cutting off the cable “news” and smoking a bowl couldnt hurt.

      2. TB has not been in the military. Anyone who buys that any conflict was worse than another conflict has no idea of what it is like to be in the shit. All fighting is crazy rough. I don’t care when it happened, 200 years ago or two days ago. The reason there is PTSD among modern fighters/Patriots is that the terrors that follow real terror were glossed over or ignored in earlier wars and conflicts. My brothers from the Vietnam era were thought to be weak in some way until science caught up with how it is when you’re in the shit. I don’t care who you are, when somebody you can’t see is trying to kill you 24/7 over the course of days and weeks and months and then you go back again, it takes its toll. I venture TB would make it to his/her third week of boot camp. Vets need the green! I bless everybody who is pulling for this! KC

      3. God Bless you, KC.
        Isn’t it wonderful how whole plant marijuana helps us consume through all the bull$#!+?

  5. Wait: Joe, “We need a new war on drugs” Manchin voted aye?! I smell a run for POTUS in the beginning stages…

  6. I dont know how much weight talking to the imbecile-in-chief will carry, but we certainly do need to contact editors-in-chief to correct them when they repeat falsehoods such as marijuana consumption having any toxicity:

    https://www.marijuana.com/news/2017/07/scientists-find-basis-for-reliable-marijuana-breathalyzer/#comment-261364

    Marijuana is non-toxic.

    Even when we smoke it, which is the only way to consume trace amounts of combustion byproducts the dosage is not only nonlethal, the NHTSA says its not any more impairing than regular drivers, and studies show that smoking marijuana reduces opiate consumption which reduces traffic fatalities.

    Marijuana is psychoactive if the quantity of THC is more than the counteractive dose of CBD. Psychoativity can be impairing, especially for first time consumers who have repressive memories and stare into their cell phone compulsively. But that does not make marijuana toxic.

    The definition of “toxic” inherently implies that a substance can cause poisoning and overdose within a reasonable amount of consumption. The only way that is possible with marijuana was demonstrated when our government put gas masks on monkeys during the 80s and suffocated them with marijuana smoke. In case anyone is not sure what the cause of death there is, that would not be overdose from toxicity, that would be axphyxiation from Prohibition Use Disorder Syndrome.

  7. I’ve been looking but can’t seem to find vote tally. How each member of commitee voted specifically. Anyone know? Trying to see how my senator voted. Thanks all.

  8. the federal govt needs to make medical marijuana available ON THE MILITARY BASES freely no questions asked for any vet who needs it ESPECIALLY IN BACKWARD STATES LIKE TEXAS WHERE MARIJUANA IS PARIAH TO STATE GOVT AND BARELY DECRIMINALIZED. the agent orange effects cannot be dealt with by doctors. only organic grown america marijuana can save them. it cured my lungs.

  9. Uruguay legalized. It’s the first country.

    http://www.thedailychronic.net/2017/74562/uruguay-first-country-in-the-world-to-legally-regulate-marijuana-begins-retail-sales-wednesday/

    Uruguay has 3.2 million people,68,000 square miles, is about the size of Connecticut (5,543 square miles) and wha ov it is that Canada and California are planning to implement for July 2018 and New England states need to join that momentum in timing, and tell the feds to legalize.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uruguay

    https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population

    Sessions, Trump, you may be asking yourself what the significance of that is, and the significance is the ever increasing population you are going to have to arrest your way out of to avoid legalization.

    The New Jim Crow Has Got to Go! That’s my protest chant.

    De Blasio needs to legalize Amsterdam style cannabis coffeeshops will be tolerated Bibob style in New York City. NYC Chief of police will issue a permit of tolerance (gedoogvergunning)

    http://www.thedailychronic.net/2017/74509/new-york-city-minorities-still-arrested-disproportionately-for-marijuana-violations/

    1. Great article on the historic significance of what Uruguay is doing Wednesday, Oracle, thanks for sharing. I particularly enjoyed the international round-up with Canadanian and Mexican drug policies closing in on the US.
      Meanwhile, the oblivious DOJ under Sessions is set to expand asset forfeitures for law enforcement. I cant link it right away because my mother emailed me a scanned copy of the article from the San Antonio Express News… like the physical paper. I wouldnt mind a future where we could get some old fashioned investigative reporting delivered on some American grown hemp-newspaper…
      Ah, to dream… back to writing my Congressman…

  10. I don’t ever want to see an American version of that damned dirty wietpas in the States.

    Colorado’s coming up with money to fund its public education system.

    What the hell is wrong with Pennsylvania? Harrisburg passed a damn budget but the state government is short about $2 billion. The Auditor General has been in the news and on TV since this March advocating legalizing adult recreational. Legislature is controlled by Republicans, and the PA Medical Society needs to get out of the way of legalization. They’re getting a new president so they can get the hell out of the way of legalization. Dr. Ted Christopher needs to get the position statement out of the way of the cannabis community.

    http://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2017/07/16/marijuana-taxes-giving-colorado-pot-money-rebuild-crumbling-schools

    http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/03/could_legalizing_marijuana_be.html

    https://www.pamedsoc.org/pamed-community/board-of-trustees

  11. This is a nice victory. Unfortunately, I’m a veteran living in Virginia where I would most likely get locked up if I got caught with even a single gram…

    Still, it’s progress!

  12. The Netherlands just needs to legalize. You have 17 million people there. Washington state has a population of 7,288,000. Colorado has 5,540,545 inhabitants. Oregon has 4,093,465 people, while Alaska has 741,894 and the District of Columbia has 681,170.

    Just eyeballing Washington, Oregon and Colorado I’d say it comes to about 16 million.

    Canada has a population of 36 million. California has a population of 39 million, and legalization is planned to be practically synchronized, along with some states in New England. See the link with the populations of states on the eastern seaboard for how many more people are really okay with legalization as the majority reality where they live.

    New Jersey needs to legalize at the same time. Chris Christie is out. (Go into the sports reporting and talk shows.) New Jersey is poised to legalize adult recreational.

    Netherlands legalizing is close to approaching the populations of the U.S. states. Do it. The E.U. should Not want to use its resources to enforce cannabis prohibition, and needs to respect legalization.

    It’s jobs, jobs, jobs–jobs for Uruguayans, Americans, jobs for Europeans. It’s time to ignore international prohibitionist agreements that prohibit cannabis because the core of their argument is based in disproven science going back to 1937.

    Trump, legalize it now! Tell your congressional minions in your party to legalize, remove cannabis from the federal schedule altogether, completely, totally, as in it’s not in the schedule at all.

    https://www.marijuana.com/news/2017/07/dutch-cannabis-social-club-applies-for-legal-cannabis-cultivation/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_of_Canada

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jersey_gubernatorial_election,_2017

  13. Wow, that is a big challenge to the DEA and Session’s standing by schedule 1 status. More support = more evidence to legalize!

  14. A major victory for those who have served and sacrificed for our country and the civilized world so bravely. And long overdue. It is a crime from those who have denied our vets this medicine for so long, the neglect at Walter Reed, other hospitals, high drug prices and often those perscriptions may only be hurting our vets rather than helping them. Thank you to Sen. Daines and all the senators who helped make this legislation a reality. To those who voted AGAINST this medicine for our vets….

    I don’t understand you.

    1. oh, yeah, and medical may even help vets with chronic alcoholism, and we know PTSD is considered as well. All our veterans want is care that will also help make the ghosts and demons of wars past go away. Thanks again to such people as these senators and activists who are making medical marijuana a reality for veterans.

  15. Now they just have to get their act together at the VA they have enough problems getting regular prescription drugs right if they don’t have a mother approved prescription list just cheap generic brand so they carry. Too bad you’re trying to get cannabis from an out of that witch doctor through the VA?

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