This July, the House Committee blocked a measure allowing VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states where the drug is legally prescribed. The measure, titled “Veterans Equal Access” has been voted on the past three years in the House as an amendment to the VA appropriations bill, and it passed the House with a vote of 233-189 in 2016. This year, it will not have that opportunity.
Veterans Equal Access proposes that VA doctors could consider and prescribe medical marijuana for pain relief, only in the legalized states. Currently, VA doctors are banned from officially recommending the drug since it is still illegal under federal law. It should be noted that veterans still maintain the right to seek out medical marijuana in legalized states, but must pay for it out of pocket. So, if veterans still have access to the drug, why is the “Veterans Equal Access” amendment important?
This amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved in previous years, would prohibit interference with veteran’s taking part in medical marijuana programs, despite using federal funds. The doctors in the Department of Veterans Affairs would still be subject to the same compliances as any other doctor that can legally prescribe the drug.
“All we want is equal treatment for our wounded warriors…” says Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), sponsor of the amendment. “This provision overwhelmingly passed on the House floor last year – and bipartisan support has only grown. It’s outrageous that the Rules Committee won’t even allow a vote for our veterans. They deserve better. They deserve compassion.”
Studies have shown veterans are statistically more likely to commit suicide or die from opiate overdoses, many of whom use opioids to cope with the physical and emotional pain of war. Congressman Blumenauer finishes with “We have stronger support in the House and Senate than ever before, and we will keep advocating for a more rational approach.”
We want to know what your take is on the Veteran Equal Access amendment? Should federal funds be used to find alternative pain treatments for our veterans?