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Congressional Leadership Strips Provisions Facilitating Medical Marijuana Access For Veterans

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Medical Marijuana For Veterans

Washington, DC: Lawmakers have removed language from pending federal legislation that sought to facilitate veterans' access to medical cannabis in jurisdictions that regulate it.

Under existing federal regulations, physicians affiliated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs are prohibited from filling out the necessary paperwork required in legal medical marijuana states. A budgetary amendment included in the Senate's version the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill sought to end this prohibition. However, Congressional leaders on Tuesday voted to eliminate the provision during hearings to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who is a veteran, said, "Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country, and many come home dealing with visible and invisible wounds. To continue limiting their access to quality healthcare through the VA is a disservice to them and the sacrifices they've made."

Similar language was included by both chambers in the 2016 version of the funding bill, but was stripped from the text during meetings in conference committee.

Last week, Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) for the first time introduced stand-alone Senate legislation to expand medical cannabis access to military veterans. Similar legislation also remains pending in the House. A 2017 American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500. See NORML's fact-sheet, "Marijuana and Veterans Issues."