Senate Appropriations Committee OKs Medical Marijuana for Vets

In July 2017, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24-7 to approve an amendment that would allow vets legal access to medical marijuana as part of the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The bill, if met with final approval, would allow physicians at VA hospitals in legal marijuana states to recommend and write medical cannabis prescriptions for veterans. [1]

The amendment is intended “to prohibit the use of funds appropriated or other-wise made available under this Act to interfere with the ability of veterans to participate in medical marijuana programs approved by States or deny services to such veterans.”

VA doctors are currently prohibited from completing the paperwork necessary for their patients to access medical marijuana. The rule has been expired for more than a year, and the VA has yet to author a replacement.

Fortunately, the amendment is now attached to the appropriations bill that pays for VA operations. Hopefully this time it will be a success; in 2016, a similar amendment was pushed through by both the House and Senate, only to be stripped from the appropriations bill by a conference committee.

Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana who sponsored the measure, said the amendment “simply allows the VA patients in states with medical marijuana programs to discuss that option with their VA doctor or physician.” [2]

The American Legion and AMVETS, 2 of the largest and most influential veterans’ groups in the country, have urged the federal government to allow vets access to medical cannabis. The American Legion took the step of sending a letter to President Trump asking for his help in changing the policy.

The letter reads:

“The American Legion respectfully requests a meeting with President Trump as soon as possible and looks forward to partnering with this administration in the fight against narcotics addiction and reducing the veteran suicide rate from the tragic loss of 20 warriors per day, to zero.”

Read: VA Head Comes Out in Support of Marijuana for Vets with PTSD

Trump could support the amendment, or he could veto it or demand that the language once again be yanked from the bill. [3]

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the pro-marijuana organization NORML, said:

“Given the rising level of both public and political support in favor of medical cannabis access, especially for veterans – coupled with the increasing lobbying efforts from veterans’ groups like the American Legion and AMVETS – I would not only anticipate members of the House and Senate to once again approve this reform legislation, but also to do so in greater numbers than last year.

The question that remains, however, is whether high ranking Republicans or the Trump administration will respect this vote, or will they turn their back on the needs of veterans and the will of overwhelming majority of voters.”

Sources:

[1] Merry Jane

[2] The Fresh Toast

[3] LA Weekly


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Medical Marijuana for Treatment of PTSD Gets Green Light in Colorado

Medical marijuana is now a legal treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Colorado. Governor John Hickenlooper signed SB17-017 on June 5, 2017, officially giving doctors the green light to prescribe cannabis to patients suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Colorado joins at least 20 other states in allowing cannabis-based treatments for the disorder. [1]

Before doctors can prescribe cannabis for PTSD, patients must sit for a consultation and receive a medical background check. Patients approved for medical marijuana will be able to possess 2 ounces of cannabis and no more than 6 plants at a time, and only 3 of those plants can be mature and flowering. However, patients will be able to petition their doctor for more.

For patients under the age of 18, medical marijuana must be approved by 2 physicians, one of whom must be a board-certified pediatrician, a board-certified family doctor, or a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. Additionally, the patient’s parents or guardians living in Colorado will have to consent in writing to the state health agency. [2]

Military PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The State Board of Health rejected medical marijuana treatment for PTSD in 2015, saying at the time there was not enough scientific research on how marijuana could affect people with the disorder. It was at least the 4th time the board had rejected the measure. [1]

The state department of health has been studying cannabis treatments for PTSD since 2015, setting aside $3.3 million for the research.

Roger Martin, the founder of Grow For Vets, said:

“What it really does, is it doesn’t get rid of the bad memories that you have, but it kind of just allows you to relax to the point that they’re not right up in front of your head.

Thousands of veterans have told me to my face that cannabis is the only thing that’s ever helped them with PTSD and not one drug that the VA has given has ever helped at all.” [3]

Read: VA Head Comes out in Favor of Marijuana for Vets with PTSD

Dr. Larry Wolk, Executive Director of the Colorado Board of Health (which does not support the legislation) said that some doctors have already started recommending medical marijuana for treatment of PTSD.

“At least if a physician is recommending it, and a physician is involved through the medical marijuana program, then that would be presumably better care.”

This is another positive step we’re taking in allowing the population to further utilize a helpful, underrated medicine.

Sources:

[1] The Denver Channel

[2] Fox 31 Denver

[3] KRDO ABC 13


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