GOP denies vets’ right to medical marijuana
The Republican Congressional leadership again has denied access to medical marijuana for America’s vets, ironically timing the hit for 9/11.
By: Chris Conrad
Senior GOP lawmakers, working to reconcile differences in bills passed separately by the two branches, on September 11 stripped out bipartisan language from pending legislation that sought to grant veterans access to medical cannabis in states that regulate it.
NORML Political Director Justin Strekal contributed to this article. For more information, see NORML’s fact-sheet, “Marijuana and Veterans Issues.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who is a veteran, said, “Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country, and many come home dealing with visible and invisible wounds.
“To continue limiting their access to quality healthcare through the VA is a disservice to them and the sacrifices they’ve made.”
Republicans have majorities in both Houses, so they completely control the committees and any legislation that moves forward and used partisan closed session meetings to exclude Democrats, who support legalizing marijuana, from introducing, discussing or even hearing them discuss bills.
Veterans suffer, opioid industry profits
Up to 20 veterans a day commit suicide, many of whom could have benefited from cannabis were it not for interference from the DEA and federal prohibition. Some say that number is exaggerated, but everyone agrees that the number is too high.
Veterans often rely on medical marijuana to help them cope with pain, opioid addiction, anger and depression. Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the same drug company that pushed opioids on our vets with the blessing of the FDA, is now selling a drug to ween addicts off its own products.
The FDA recently approved a single molecule from cannabis for medical use but has been a major obstacle to medical access to natural cannabis.
While cannabis reduces the need for opioids and provides relief for many chronic health problems, under existing federal regulations, physicians affiliated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs are prohibited from filling out the necessary paperwork required in legal medical marijuana states.
Sessions rigged hearings to prevent House vote
A budgetary amendment included in the Senate’s version the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill sought to end this prohibition but Republican Peter Sessions blocked the bill from being considered in the House or Representatives.
It was cut from the budget when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellcaved in to the House and agreed to eliminate the provision during hearings to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Meanwhile, Trump’s “failing” Attorney General Jeff Sessions is seeking harsh penalties for opioid abuse rather than treatment for addiction.
Veterans can’t use VA doctors to recommend cannabis
Veterans who use medical marijuana pursuant to state laws are not to be penalized for it, but neither are VA doctors allowed to help these patients get relief.
Similar language was included by both chambers in the 2016 version of the funding bill, but was stripped from the text during meetings in conference committee.
A week earlier, Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) for the first time introduced stand-alone Senate legislation to expand medical cannabis access to military veterans. Similar legislation also remains pending in the House.
A 2017 American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.
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