First Ever Veterans-Focused Medical Bill Introduced In Senate

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) on Wednesday introduced legislation, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions.

Under existing regulations, VA doctors are not permitted to fill out the mandatory paperwork necessary to recommend cannabis therapy in those 31 states that regulate it. Passage of The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act ends this discrimination against veterans and prevents sanctions against VA doctors who wish to recommend medical cannabis treatment to their patients. The Act also encourages the Veterans Administration to promulgate medical cannabis research, and appropriates funding for scientific studies.

A recent American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition. A 2017 review of over 10,000 studies by the National Academy of Sciences concluded, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective for the treatment for chronic pain in adults.”

Similar legislation, The Veterans Equal Access Act (HR 1820) is pending in the House. You can contact your federal lawmakers in support of both of these bills using the NORML Action Alert.


more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500

American Legion Supports Expanding Veterans Access To Medical Cannabis

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, has adopted a resolution calling on federal officials to expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana.

The resolution, passed last week at the Legion’s annual convention, urges the “United States government to permit V.A. medical providers to be able to discuss with veterans the use of marijuana for medical purposes and recommend it in those states where medical marijuana laws exist.”

The language is similar to pending legislation in Congress, H.R. 1820: The Veterans Equal Access Act. In July, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24 to 7 to include similar language as an amendment to the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Identical language in the House was blocked from consideration by House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions(R-TX).

Last year, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 MilCon-VA bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

Federal policy prohibits V.A. doctors – including those residing in legal medical cannabis states – from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician.

Both the American Legion and AMVETS issued public calls last year in support of federal marijuana law reforms. Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications to treat conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.