Two weeks ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24-7 to include the Veterans Equal Access amendment, introduced by Senator Daines (R-MT) as part of the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which would expand much needed medical marijuana access to our nation’s veterans.
Yet House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) decided that he did not want the full House to be able to vote on this critical amendment.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the amendments lead sponsor, testified before the committee that it was “a critical area of literally life and death.”
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. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction on a scale of post-traumatic symptom scores following cannabis therapy. This is why, in recent months, two of the largest veterans’ rights groups — AMVETS and the American Legion — have resolved in favor of patients’ access to cannabis therapy.
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.
It is time that lawmakers stop playing politics with veterans’ health and pass and enact this amendment. There is still the possibility of the Senate’s amendment making it through the conference committee so make your voice heard.
You can send a message to your elected officials in support of veterans having access to medical marijuana by clicking HERE.