Medical marijuana bills that could allow use for veterans on docket for Congressional committee

Abbie Bennett
June 20, 2019 - 10:16 am

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Members of Congress are set to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss four bills that could open up opportunities for veterans to use medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, PTSD and other service-connected issues.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee was previously expected to hold a vote on at least three medical marijuana bills but pulled the legislation from the agenda and postponed the May discussion on them “to dedicate time exclusively to this topic in the future to allow more voices to be heard,” committee majority spokeswoman Jenni Geurink told Connecting Vets.

No votes are scheduled for the hearing on Thursday, but the bills differ slightly from those up for consideration last month, and two newer bills were included.

The bills include:

  • The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act: Directs the Secretary of the VA to carry out a clinical trial on the effects of cannabis on chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.
  • The Veterans Equal Access Act: Allows VA doctors to provide recommendations and opinions to veterans on participating in state marijuana programs.
  • The VA Survey of Cannabis Use Act: Requires the VA to enter an agreement with a federally funded research and development center to conduct surveys nationwide to measure cannabis use by veterans.
  • A bill to require the VA to provide training in the use of medical cannabis in conjunction with medical schools that have incorporated education on medical cannabis into their curricula.

VA leadership so far has strongly opposed proposed medical marijuana legislation, saying as long as marijuana is a Schedule I drug, they will look to the Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Justice on what to allow.

“This committee can make strong proposals for us to move forward with recommendations of filling out forms and such, but in the end, we need to go back to DEA and DOJ for their opinion. I’ve not seen anything to suggest their opinion will change,” Larry Mole, chief consultant for VA population health, said at a previous hearing.

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