Next week, the two key committees will hold hearings on various aspects of federal marijuana policy.
The first will be held on Wednesday, June 19th, in the Small Business Committee, entitled Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry.
Currently, in the 10 states that have legalized adult use cannabis and the 33 states that have legalized medical marijuana programs, entrepreneurs and small businesses are unable to access the valuable programs and support of the Small Business Administration. Ultimately, this prohibition on access to resources hampers the potential to create a robust and competitive marketplace for consumers.
It is expected that members of the committee will soon introduce legislation to address this issue and this hearing will mark the first time that Congress has discussed the issue in a formal capacity.
The second hearing is to be held on Thursday, June 20th, in the Veterans Affairs Committee to discuss various bills that are pending regarding medical cannabis programs and veterans access. For years, NORML has supported legislation introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, entitled The Veterans Equal Access Act, which would allow veterans living in states that have a regulated medical marijuana program to discuss cannabis as part of their healthcare plan and allow VA doctors to fill out state-legal paperwork.
Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of either of these bills would lift this prohibition.
In the 114th Congress, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote. Similar language was also included during the 115th Congress in the Senate yet stripped out by Republican leadership.
Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Post-traumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.
A recently released poll conducted by The American Legion showed that nearly 1 in 4 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition.
You can see a full list of pending federal efforts and contact your lawmakers in support at https://norml.org/act.