the senate appropriations committee passed a bipartisan amendment yesterday. the historic measure allows veterans administration (va) doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. the vote was 18-12.
"veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor and use it if it's medically necessary. they have served this country valiantly, so the least we can do is allow them to have full and open discussions with their doctors," said michael collins, drug policy alliance policy manager.
the veterans equal access amendment was sponsored by senator steve daines (r-mont) and senator jeff merkley (d-ore). it was added in committee to a must-pass military construction and veterans affairs spending bill. the bill is expected to pass on the senate floor.
t.j. thompson, a disabled navy veteran said, "veterans see this victory as a major step forward in restoring our first amendment rights within the va. this will allow for a safe, open dialogue between providers and patients, and allows veterans to be treated the same as any patient."
in 2002, the ninth circuit court of appeals affirmed in conant v. walters the right of physicians to recommend medical marijuana, regardless of its illegality under federal law, as well as the right of patients to receive accurate information.
currently, the department of veterans affairs specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding participation in a state medical marijuana program.
there are numerous federal health care programs besides the va, such as medicaid, medicare and chip - but only the va prohibits physicians from discussing and recommending medical marijuana to their patients. a medicare patient may freely discuss medical marijuana use with their doctor, but a returning veteran is denied the same right.
studies show medical marijuana helps treat post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, two illnesses typically suffered by veterans. last year, a study (by the new mexico medical cannibas program) of people with ptsd showed a greater than 75% reduction in severity of symptoms when patients were using marijuana to treat their illness, compared to when they were not.
in 2014, the u.s. house voted five times in favor of letting states set their own marijuana policies. one of the amendments, prohibiting the justice department from spending any money in fiscal year 2015 undermining state medical marijuana laws, made it into the final spending bill signed into law by president obama.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.