The U.S. House of Representatives voted this morning in favor of a measure that would allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend medical marijuana for their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal.
The measure, an amendment to the Department of Veterans Affairs appropriations bill proposed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), passed by a 44-vote margin, including 57 Republicans voting in favor. The final vote was 233-189. A similar amendment proposed in the House last year failed narrowly, 213-210.
Currently, VA docs are prohibited from discussing or recommending medical marijuana with their veteran patients, who have to see a private physician to get that information.
“We should not be limiting the treatment options available to our veterans,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “I think it is the right thing to do for our veterans, to be able to treat them equitably, to enable them to have access to the doctor who knows them the best, giving them better treatment, and saving them money.”
While the bill allows VA physicians to discuss and recommend medical marijuana — as well as complete the needed paperwork for state-sponsored medical marijuana programs — it does not allow the VA to provide marijuana for veterans or cover their prescription cost.
“This is a policy that is long overdue, and it’s good to see such strong support for it in the House,” said National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) executive director Aaron Smith. “Medical marijuana has huge potential benefits for many of the issues that military veterans deal with, and it’s unconscionable to muzzle their doctors from talking about it.”
Nearly 150 cannabis professionals from across the country recently held more than 200 meetings with members of Congress and their staffs to push for cannabis policy reform.
The Military Times reports that 23 states and Washington, D.C. have already legalized medical marijuana, and 17 states have laws allowing physicians to prescribe oils derived from marijuana plants. In 14 states, post-traumatic stress disorder is an approved condition for medical marijuana.
A CBS News national poll from last month shows that 56% of Americans support full legalization of marijuana, with an eye-popping 90% supporting legalization for medical use.
(source: PND Wires)