Kaine Introduces Bill To Allow Veterans To Access Medical Marijuana Through The VA

VIRGINIA: U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, joined Senator Brian Schatz to introduce legislation to allow doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to discuss and potentially recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states that have established medical marijuana programs. The bill will create a temporary, five-year safe harbor protection for veterans who use medical marijuana and their doctors and direct the VA to research the effects of medical marijuana on veterans in pain as well as the relationship between medical marijuana programs and a potential reduction in opioid abuse among veterans.

“Right now, in the 33 states where it is legal, doctors may recommend medical marijuana to help eligible patients. Our bill ensures that doctors who work for the Department of Veterans Affairs can discuss and potentially recommend medical marijuana to their patients that are veterans in accordance with state law. To do otherwise amounts to unfairly punishing the men and women who served in our military. The bill would also take an important step in further exploring whether medical marijuana can be a viable tool to help veterans in pain and reduce opioid abuse,” Kaine said.

The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act is supported by the American Academy of Pain Medicine, American Pain Society, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Veterans Medical Cannabis Association, NORML, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Americans for Safe Association, Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance, and Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

“Our members have spoken loud and clear on this issue,” said Tom Porter, Legislative Director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  “Eighty-three percent of respondents to our recently-released member survey approved of cannabis use for medicinal purposes. With such overwhelming support, we need to be removing barriers to care for veterans, not maintaining them. IAVA applauds Sen. Schatz for introducing the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act to do just that.”

“When nearly one in four veterans report that they are consuming cannabis for therapeutic purposes, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would provide crucial medical and civil protections for the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve this country. It is unconscionable that these brave individuals who stepped up to protect our nation’s freedoms would be treated as criminals when they return home simply for treating their medical ailments with a safe and effective option under state law,” said Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML. “We applaud and appreciate the leadership by Senator Schatz in putting forward this legislation.”

Lawmakers Demand The VA Study Medical Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Members of the US House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs are demanding that the Department of Veterans Affairs facilitate protocols to assess the efficacy of medical cannabis in veterans suffering from chronic pain conditions and post-traumatic stress.

Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz, along with nine other Democrat members of the Committee, authored an October 26, 2017 letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin stating: “[The] VA is uniquely situated to pursue research on the impact of medical marijuana on veterans suffering from chronic pain and PTSD given its access to world class researchers, the population it serves, and its history of overseeing and producing research resulting in cutting-edge medical treatments. … VA’s pursuit of research into the impact of medical marijuana on the treatment of veterans diagnosed with PTSD who are also experiencing chronic pain is integral to the advancement of health care for veterans and the nation. We ask VA to respond … with a commitment to the development of VHA-led research into this issue.”

In September, representatives from The American Legion addressed a separate letter to VA Secretary Shulkin encouraging the federal agency to assist in an ongoing, FDA-approved clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of various strains of cannabis in veterans with PTSD. To date, the VA has refused to assist in patient recruitment for the trial. The VA has yet to publicly respond to the Legion’s letter.

Survey data finds that military veterans frequently consume cannabis therapeutically, often using it as an alternative to conventional medications in the treatment of pain and post-traumatic stress.


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

Veterans Medical Marijuana Amendment In U.S. House Loses By Just Three Votes

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  There are reasons to be optimistic about a vote in Congress that didn’t go our way.

Last night the U.S. House voted down a bipartisan amendment by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) that would have allowed Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend marijuana to their patients.

The House rejected a similar amendment last year. It received 195 votes (222 voted against it). Last night, 210 members of Congress voted for it, and only 213 voted against it.

That’s a 15-vote pick up — and in a Congress far more conservative than last year.