In honor of Veterans Day Nov. 11, presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg released plans to increase veterans’ access to medical cannabis, as first reported by Forbes.
Sanders’ plan would ensure that Veterans Affairs (VA) providers have the option to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients, as well as allow any servicemember discharged from the military for cannabis use or possession to apply for a discharge upgrade to become eligible for the full suite of VA services and benefits.
“As a nation, we have a moral obligation to provide the best quality care to those who put their lives on the line to defend us,” Sanders wrote in his announcement. “As president, I will do everything that I can to make sure that every veteran gets the benefits that they are entitled to receive on time and without delay. We will not dismantle or privatize the VA. We will expand and improve the VA.”
Warren noted in her announcement that she has three brothers who served in the military, and that she supports the expansion of programs to provide treatment rather than incarceration for veterans with behavioral issues resulting from trauma, as well as the legalization of cannabis. Warren re-introduced the STATES Act in April alongside Sen. Cory Gardner to protect states’ legal cannabis programs, and also signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation that would allow research into medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids when treating veterans.
“We need to pursue all evidence-based opportunities for treatment and response,” she said.
Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a veteran himself, introduced a plan where he pledged to “support legislation that will empower VA physicians to issue medical cannabis recommendations to augment a veteran’s broader treatment plan, in accordance with the laws of states where it is legal,” as well as to urge the VA to study the use of cannabis to treat pain.