ptsd second amendment military veteran cannabis marijuana
Medical Marijuana Policy

Congressman Wants To Remove Restrictions Preventing VA Doctors From Recommending Medical Marijuana

ptsd second amendment military veteran cannabis marijuanaThis week, when the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider the FY 2016 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) plans to offer an amendment to make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical marijuana.

Currently, the Veterans Administration (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a Veteran’s participation in a state medical marijuana program. Congressman Blumenauer’s amendment ensures that no funds made available to the VA can be used to implement this prohibition, which would, in effect, strike it down. The amendment is currently co-sponsored by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

“While there is no single approach to aiding our nation’s veterans, medical marijuana is proven to help in treating post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries frequently suffered by veterans,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “States are listening to their residents on the benefits of medical marijuana, including veterans, and are changing their laws. It is unacceptable for our wounded warriors to be forced out of the VA system to simply seek a recommendation on whether or not medical marijuana is a good treatment option. We should not be preventing access to medicine that can help them deal with these injuries to survive and thrive. I encourage my colleagues to show compassion to our veterans and pass this amendment.”

Thirty-six states, the District of Columbia and Guam have passed laws that provide for legal access to medical marijuana in some form. As a result, well over one million patients across the country, including many veterans, now use medical marijuana at the recommendation of their physician to treat conditions ranging from seizures, glaucoma, anxiety, chronic pain and nausea. There are also nine states and the District of Columbia that now allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana for the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), due to a growing body of anecdotal evidence suggesting that marijuana offers relief when nothing else has and can be a more effective alternative to other and sometimes addictive prescription drugs.

In February, Congressman Blumenauer also introduced H.R. 667, Veterans Equal Access Act, to address this important issue. The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Justin Amash (R-MI), Tom Reed (R-NY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Dina Titus (D-NV).

“The Veterans Equal Access amendment will allow for an open line of communication between a veteran and her or his Department of VA care providers in states that have decided to legalize medical cannabis,” said U.S. Navy Veteran T.J. Thompson. “This is a major first step in allowing veterans equal access to medical cannabis through reestablishing that First Amendment right of freedom of speech between a patient and care provider, a right which has been violated by a major gap in policy and law on the federal level with disabled veterans. With the legalization of medical cannabis, statistics have shown suicide and addiction rates decrease, which are both major plagues among veterans.”

“Veterans for Safe Access and Compassionate Care is extremely thankful for the leadership and compassion by Rep. Blumenauer. The passage of this amendment to the MilCon-VA Appropriations bill would allow Veterans to have the same open dialogue with our doctors as our civilian counterparts have about the risks and benefits of medical marijuana for debilitating conditions,” said Scott Murphy, President of Veterans for Safe Access and Compassionate Care. “As seen in recent studies and on the CNN documentary Weed 3, it is clear that the American people support national medical marijuana reform. It is unlikely that their intention is to leave suffering Veterans behind.”

“Veterans with PTSD and chronic pain who rely on the VA for their healthcare are not being afforded the same access to state medical marijuana programs as their non-veteran fellow residents,” said Michael Liszewski, Government Affairs Director of Americans for Safe Access. “With 22 veterans or more committing suicide each day and an estimated 25 million veterans living with chronic pain, it is unfair to deny them a physician-recommended treatment option that those who did not serve have greater access to.”

“The gag rule stopping VA physicians from discussing medical marijuana with vets must be eliminated,” said Michael Collins, Policy Manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Vets should have the right to talk to their doctors about this vital treatment. The current rule violates the doctor-patient relationship as well as the First Amendment.”

  • Caleb

    Jesus Christ lives. Can we smoke?

  • dj

    Amen! Former US Marine.

  • Valient

    How about also focusing on the more ridiculous aspect. The VA will prescribe you addictive painkillers. Those painkillers are also schedule 1/2. If you admit to/are drug tested for marijuana, you lose access to your VA painkillers.

    Opiates with a proven record of multiple major issues, perfectly fine.
    Marijuana with a proven record of almost no issues, never.

  • HellNo

    I’m a Veteran, and I’m all for giving Vets the best possible medical care.
    But other Americans have chronic pain and even PTS. Is their suffering any less relevant? End prohibition, and we can all enjoy the benefits of cannabis. Besides, the Veterans Administration couldn’t manage a fucking softball game.

    • VSACC

      Civilian suffering is of course not less relevant and no where was that stated or implied. What is less relevant is when any time a bill is introduced there is a small minority of people who always say, “why doesn’t this bill do x, why doesn’t it do y. I am also a support of q but I don’t see that.” Opinion and critique is needed and recommended, but is it too much for it to be given in context?
      This is one specific amendment to address VA Directive 2011-004, that is it. This bill doesn’t address prison reform, drug testing in the work place, zero tolerance laws, or racial disparity in drug arrest. All worthy causes but also not in this amendment.

      • Jetdoc

        It’s in a MilCon VA Appropriations Bill! It deals strictly with allowing VA Dr’s to even TALK to a Veteran suffering from PTSD about cannabis. At present even, in States that have medical marijuana, the Dr’s aren’t allowed to even mention that to someone who’s dealing with suicidal thoughts daily! . It’s NOT intended to deal with past convictions, prison reform etc… It’s a VA Appropriations bill. It allows VA Dr’s to tell veterans w/PTSD that marijuana is a viable option for your PTSD. Add it stands a VA Dr can’t even mention the word marijuana to a Veteran, STUCK in the VA system. Not even in Medical Marijuana States!

        Opposing this is effectively opposing EVERYTHING Dr Sue Sisley is doing for Veterans. It doesn’t allow her to even recruit veterans with PTSD at the VA! If you’re doing a study on veterans with PTSD, where’s the best place to find em? At the VA! She can’t even go there and mention her study to the Veterans STUCK in the VA system!

        Understand what you’re opposing before you do it! You actually might wanna READ the article before responding next time. It tells you in the very first paragraph it’s a “VA MilCon and related Agencies Appropriations bill”. We’re not asking for “special treatment”, only equal!

    • Denny

      Unfortunately, your last statement seems to be proving accurate with no viable corrective actions in the works.
      If we’d stop giving away $$ to countries that most people couldn’t find on a global map and concentrate our resources on veterans and actual American citizens nearly everyone in the country would ultimately benefit.

      • HellNo

        The corrective action is the abolishment of prohibition.
        Access to marijuana should be everyone’s right, not just those that are more politically favored.

    • Jetdoc

      Understand where the bill is! It’s a VA Appropriations bill. You don’t know what you’re talking about! As it stands in Medical Marijuana States a Private Physician can discuss cannabis as an optional treatment for their ailments.

      Not even in Medical Marijuana States can a VA Dr, even MENTION marijuana as a possible treatment for the VETERANS PTSD! So all were asking for is EQUAL ACCESS to what Private citizens have. Understand the bill before you go shooting off about it. You’re not a Veteran or you wouldn’t oppose this! We’re not asking for “special treatment”, just equal!

      Tell me your weren’t born this stupid!