Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives took action to increase military veterans’ access to medical marijuana on Thursday.
US lawmakers have passed a measure to allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients in states that have legalized it.
Marijuana can help with conditions like PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Up to one in five veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq experience PTSD each year and 30 percent of Vietnam vets have suffered from the disorder at some stage, according to VA stats.
The Independent reports:
The bill was introduced by Democrat Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and acts to strike down a restriction on these doctors which prevents them from recommending medical marijuana for treatment of pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and as a way to deal with growing numbers of opioid abuse and suicides.
“I have been deeply troubled about our inability to adequately deal with our returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Mr Blumenauer said, as reported by The Huffington Post. “A lot of them are suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, and these are all conditions that have been shown to respond to medical marijuana.”
House passes my amendment, 233-189, to remove restrictions preventing VA doctors from recommending medical #marijuana to qualified veterans!
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) May 19, 2016
Currently veterans seeking medical marijuana had to pay for it out of their own pocket, outside of the VA system.
The drug is legal in 24 states as well as the District of Colombia.
The House of Representatives passed the Veterans Equal Access Amendment by 233-189.
Later on Thursday, the senate voted in another massive spending measure on Thursday, ushering in $81.6 billion for veterans and military construction programs, and also using similar language on medical marijuana.
Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana told Bloomberg: “A veteran, whether they walk into a VA facility or a non-VA facility, should have the same options available to them.”
— Weedmaps (@weedmaps) May 19, 2016