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Senate Passes Bill Letting Veterans Access Medical Marijuana

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Another step in the right direction!



WASHINGTON - For the first time, Veterans Health Administration doctors will be able to authorize medical marijuana use for patients. 

Just one day before veterans marched to the White House to lobby for medical marijuana as a treatment for war trauma, the Senate passed legislation allowing doctors to discuss medical cannabis as a treatment option for patients in 23 states. 

Wednesday's march began at D.C.'s Veterans Affairs Headquarters and headed down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. As part of the protest, the group of veterans threw thousands of empty prescription pill bottles onto the sidewalk.

According to organizers, the bottles were collected from across the country in memory of those "whose sacrifices did not end on the battlefield." 

Organizers said their goal was to raise awareness of dangerous prescription medications, which they say are often prescribed to treat war trauma. They say they’re being unjustly deprived of cannabis therapy and with a current veteran suicide rate of 22 per day, it’s time for the Veterans Administration to recognize that there are alternative forms of treatment available.

Before the new legislation, the Veterans Health Administration did not allow its physicians to discuss medical marijuana as an option for patients in states with medical cannabis laws, forcing veterans to turn elsewhere for guidance and the paperwork necessary to pursue treatment with the drug. 

"We see this victory as a step toward a peace treaty with the government we volunteered to defend with our lives and as a step toward restoring our first amendment rights and dignity as citizens of the United States, " said TJ Thompson, a disabled Navy veteran said in a Drug Policy Alliance press release. 

The Senate legislation won't change the federal illegality of using marijuana as medicine, but will allow veterans in states with medicinal marijuana legislation new options for the treatment of PTSD and other disabilities.



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how many drs would even do this at the VA?


with this new passage, i would guess they all can.. most vets there  main primary doc is the VA doctor, we just get sent around for specialists.  I can't wait to throw this out to my doc. :)   too bad i already renewed this last month.. 

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what i mean is , regular non-va drs dont approve of mj much. i was just curious if there are mj-ok va drs

Well, before 2008 no doctors were writing cents. Did that mean that none would after the law changed..of course not


Today there are a Many docs writing certs. Helping patients.


Without the prohibition and penalties more doctors will prescribe cannabis.


Cannabis has been effective medicine for millennia the health system is just catching up.


It's time indeed to Free the Weed

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how many drs would even do this at the VA?[/quote


I guess I'm lucky. In the practice I go to, there are two I know of and perhaps more ( out of 8 or so Docs) that support mj use and complete the necessary forms. MMJ use is on my record and shows up for all my specialists. Not one has question my use and many say "keep using as needed. " this, in very conservative, Holland/Ottawa County.

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It will fail in the House?


The language (attachment) must still must survive negotiation between leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives as they try to pass the omnibus spending deal by December 11th to prevent government shut down. So we shall find out quite soon.




"The lower chamber narrowly rejected the proposal in April when it passed its own version of the bill.

But there may be cause for optimism. After House lawmakers rejected the companion amendment in a213-210 vote (with 35 Republicans voting in favor), Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., told U.S. News he mistakenly voted “no” and that he “misread the amendment.” Another “no” vote, whose support could have assured victory, Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., told U.S. News the amendment didn’t go far enough."

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  • 2 months later...

Just to follow up, the house did strip the medical marijuana provision from the VA legislation on the 17th  of December.


Mike Liszewski, legislative affairs director for Americans for Safe Access, which advocates for safe and legal access to marijuana for therapeutic uses and research, called the House action "a disappointing and harmful outcome for veterans, because the veterans who are most hurt by this are those who have the greatest need for help."




Disappointing at best!

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  • 2 months later...

Here we go again. Are you enjoying the roller costar ride?


S.2806 - Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017


Sec. 249. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Veterans Affairs in this Act may be used in a manner that would—

(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

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  • 4 weeks later...



Editor's note: This story first published at 12:54 p.m. May 19


Congress on Thursday gave veterans the right to discuss medical marijuana as a treatment option with their Veterans Affairs doctors in states where it is legal.


The House and Senate approved bills that include amendments forcing VA to lift restrictions that prohibit doctors from talking about medical marijuana or recommending it to their veteran patients.


The legislation, tacked onto bills funding military construction and VA, prohibit the department from using funds to enforce the VA's policy that limits doctors from recommending medical marijuana.


The House voted 233-189 on the amendment offered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., on Thursday morning; the House later approved the full legislation in a 295-129 vote. The Senate voted 89-8 to approve its own version of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill.





DEA approves PTSD marijuana study


"The death rate from opioids among VA health care is nearly double the national average," Blumenauer said in debate over his amendment. "From what I hear from veterans is that medical marijuana has helped them deal with pain and PTSD, particularly as an alternative to opioids."


The Senate amendment was sponsored by Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.


"Today’s Senate and House passage is an encouraging step forward. Bottom-line - when veterans walk into a VA facility and talk with their doctor they should be able to discuss all options available to them," Daines told Military Times.


While the measure allows VA doctors to discuss marijuana and complete the needed paperwork for state-sponsored medical marijuana programs, it does not allow VA to provide medical marijuana for patients or cover prescription cost.


A number of lawmakers opposed the initiatives, saying Congress should not weigh in on the issue without input from the medical community and Food and Drug Administration.


“I’m uncomfortable in trying to dictate policy on medical marijuana without input from the FDA and National Institutes of Health,” Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., said.


Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and 17 states have laws allowing physicians to prescribe oils derived from marijuana plants.


In 14 states, post-traumatic stress disorder is an approved condition for medical marijuana.


The VA recommends its physicians use "evidence-based" practices — therapies proved by scientific research to be effective — to treat mental and physical health conditions such as PTSD, depression and pain.




Senators move to give veterans access to medical marijuana


There has been no research in the U.S. on the effectiveness of medical marijuana for relieving symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or other conditions, although some veterans groups and marijuana legalization advocates say it helps relieve symptoms of combat-related PTSD and anxiety.


The two bills will need to be reconciled and signed into law for the provision to go into effect.


Shortly after the vote, however, medical marijuana advocacy groups praised the moves and said they look forward to full passage.


“It’s looking like this could finally be the year the federal government stops making veterans jump through costly time-consuming hoops just to get legal access to medical marijuana,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. “There is absolutely no reason the VA should be preventing its doctors from helping veterans who served our country find relief with medical marijuana.”

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