Veterans & Cannabis


Oct, 2021 by Cannabiz Wholesaler

America’s veterans fought for this nation’s freedom – and have earned the freedom to use medical marijuana to soothe their pain

In August, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) successfully passed an amendment to the fiscal year 2022 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that protects veterans’ ability to discuss with VA physicians the use of medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

“We owe our veterans not just an enormous debt of gratitude but access to the best quality health options in the world through the VA system. That means they need to be able to discuss the full range of legal treatment options with their VA providers,” said Merkley. “Outdated laws should not censor veterans’ doctor-patient relationships, and I’m hopeful that this will be the year we get this fix across the finish line and signed into law.”
The amendment would allow for parity between VA and non-VA facilities in states like Oregon that have medical marijuana programs. It does not change current laws preventing the possession or dispensing of marijuana on VA property, but simply allows veterans to discuss all options that are legally available in their state with their VA doctor. Thirty-six states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have legal medical cannabis programs.

The amendment was adopted in committee by voice vote, indicating widespread support. “We have now 36 states that have medical cannabis, and our veterans want to know from their VA doctor what their thoughts are on the pros and cons or appropriate role or challenges of this particular strategy for treating a variety of issues, including PTSD,” Merkley added. “I think it’s really important that we not force our veterans to be unable to discuss this issue with their doctors.”

The text of the amendment reads in part: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Veterans Affairs in this Act may be used in a manner that would—

(1) interfere with the ability of a veteran to participate in a medicinal marijuana program approved by a State

(2) deny any services from the Department to a veteran who is participating in such a program

(3) limit or interfere with the ability of a healthcare provider of the Department to make appropriate recommendations, fill out forms, or take steps to comply with such a program.”

The House “on several occasions has approved legislation to allow VA doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations to their patients, but it has never been enacted into law,” reported marijuanamoment.net. “Some lawmakers have expressed concern that, even if the VA funding provision were added, government physicians could still be penalized by the Justice Department if they filled out cannabis forms while the substance remains a federally prohibited. Multiple pieces of veteran- and marijuana-specific legislation have been introduced this Congress.”

Bases, Vets and Activism


In North Carolina, which is home to eight military bases, one of the largest veteran populations in the country and a Republicancontrolled legislature that openly supports the troops, action is being taken.

A group called North Carolina Families For Medical Cannabis -- a coalition of families, veterans, physicians, and other medical professionals who believe safe, regulated access to medical cannabis is critical for the wellbeing and quality of life of NC patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions -- is working to get the word out about the health benefits of medical cannabis.

Chayse Roth, a former Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who served multiple deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, is working hard to convince legislators to pass a bill that would legalize medical marijuana and allow veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other debilitating conditions to use it for treatment. “I’ve lost more men to suicide since we went to Afghanistan in ’01 than I have in combat,” Roth told usatoday.com. “It’s just unacceptable for these guys to go overseas and win the battle and come home and lose the battle to themselves… If we really want to be the most veteran-friendly state in the union, this is just another thing we can do to solidify that statement.”

“The group carrying the message here makes a huge difference,” Julius Hobson Jr., a former lobbyist for the American Medical Association, also told the news site. “When you’ve got veterans coming in advocating for that, and they’re considered to be a more conservative bunch of folks, that has more impact.”

The Veterans Cannabis Project in Washington, DC, which is dedicated to improving U.S. military veterans’ quality of life through the opportunity of cannabis, believes medical cannabis “saves lives and that veterans deserve full, legal access.”

The group calls medical cannabis “a proven, safe and commonsense personal health management option, free of the devastating side effects of opiate-based drugs. It is now legal in (36) states plus D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands and is recognized by experts such as the American College of Physicians, the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association as a safer alternative to many federally legal treatments. Medicinal cannabis is an incredibly effective tool for veterans challenged with managing the symptoms of their wounds.”

It is a freedom that veterans have fought for, and earned

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