The House Veterans' Affairs Committee has passed two bills to expand access and further research on medical cannabis for veterans.
The Veterans Equal Access Act (HR 1647) would allow Veteran Affairs (VA) physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients in states where it's legal. Regardless of legality, VA healthcare providers are currently prohibited from completing said recommendations, requiring military veterans to seek care from an out-of-network physician.
"The reefer madness days are done, and it's time for Congress and the VA to face the facts surrounding marijuana—most pointedly, its medical benefits for veterans," Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Or.), sponsor of the bill and founding co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, wrote in an email. "More and more veterans are reportedly using cannabis to help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, chronic pain and several other ailments."
The VA medical Cannabis Research Act (HR 712), sponsored by Rep. Lou Correa (D-Ca.) would require the VA to conduct clinical trials on the medical potential of cannabis to assist in the treatment of chronic conditions common among veterans, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"My bill puts our veterans first by ensuring the Department of Veterans Affairs takes cannabis seriously and conducts vital medical research into its effectiveness in treating PTSD and chronic pain," Correa said in a statement. "Our veterans are depending on us. We owe it to every veteran to never stop looking for ways to treat their scars."