Two medical marijuana bills focused on military veterans are scheduled for votes in a congressional committee on Thursday.
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will mark up the pieces of legislation, which focus on increasing legal access to medical cannabis under state laws and expanding research on its therapeutic effects. This comes one year after the panel held a hearing on these and other cannabis bills, though a previously scheduled vote was later cancelled.
This time around, advocates are hopeful that the committee will approve the bipartisan bills, titled the Veterans Equal Access Act and the VA Medical Cannabis Research Act.
The first bill, introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) would allow doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to issue medical cannabis recommendations to their patients in states where it’s legal.
“In the 33 states that have medical cannabis programs, veterans are forced out of the VA health care system and away from their trusted physicians to obtain, and pay for, medical cannabis,” Blumenauer told Marijuana Moment. “My legislation is a simple fix to an unnecessary problem and I’m glad to hear the Veterans Affairs Committee is taking it up. I’m working to get this bill to the House floor as soon as possible. Our veterans have been waiting too long.”
The House and Senate have both previously approved annual spending bills containing riders blocking VA from punishing doctors for writing medical marijuana recommendations, but no such measure has yet been enacted into law.
“Now that veterans are finally being given their day, it’s critically important that the committee and the full House expeditiously pass the bill,” Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “Veterans must no longer be discriminated against in states where medical cannabis is a legal alternative.”
Published: March 10, 2020
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