A bill introduced in the US Senate on September 5, 2018, by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) would allow physicians to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients in legal marijuana states. The bill will also set aside as much as $15 million in funds for research into medical cannabis. A statement from Senator Nelson’s office said:
“In addition to creating a temporary, five-year safe harbor protection for veterans who use medical marijuana, the bill would also direct the VA to conduct research on the effects of medical marijuana on veterans who are in pain and how prescribing marijuana to veterans can be used to reduce opioid abuse among veterans.
“Federal law prohibits VA doctors from prescribing or recommending medical marijuana to veterans,” Nelson noted. “This legislation will allow veterans in Florida and elsewhere the same access to legitimately prescribed medication, just as any other patient in those 31 states would have.”
Federal law bars VA doctors from prescribing medical marijuana to veterans. That’s not right. I just filed a bill to let these doctors prescribe medical marijuana to vets in Florida and the 30 other states where patients are legally allowed access to it. https://t.co/L5Pofyb7XG
— Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) September 5, 2018
The path for such a measure is still quite murky with the Republican controlled Congress. The idea is not new and the House of Representatives has rejected such attempts in the past.
“All of the plans still face a difficult path before they can become reality,” reports Military Times. “Neither the White House nor VA officials have expressed support for expanded use of medical marijuana, even as advocates like the American Legion have touted it as a possible alternative to highly-addictive opioids.”
The American Legion has been making public comments recently to encourage more federal research into the effects of cannabis as a medicine, especially in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), pain and opioid addiction.
“We just need to know that the American government is focused on trying to find cures for not only veterans but for all Americans,” said Louis Celli, National Director Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation at the Legion . “And if cannabis, which is a drug, is something that can help (then) they have to do the research to do that.”
A recent poll by the American Legion showed:
- 92 percent of all veterans support research into medical cannabis.
- 83 percent of all veteran households support legalizing medical cannabis.
- Support for medical cannabis research is consistent nationwide, across ages, gender, political affiliation and geography.
- 60 percent of respondents do not live in states where medical cannabis is currently legal.
- 79 percent of respondents aged 60+ supported federally legalized medical cannabis.
- 22 percent of veterans stated they are currently using cannabis to treat a medical condition.
- 40 percent of caregivers stated they know a veteran who is using medical cannabis to alleviate a medical condition.
You can see the survey results here.