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Department of Veterans Affairs Receives Senate Approval for Medical Marijuana

Published: October 27, 2021

This Thursday, a congressional committee is scheduled to vote on a bill that would require clinical trials of the therapeutic qualities of marijuana for military veterans to be allowed in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The proposed studies will examine medical marijuana and PTSD, and the extent that cannabis affects the condition, dosage recommendations, anxiety/ mood, sleep quality, and more.

Clinical trials may also, “include an evaluation of the effects of the use of cannabis to treat chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder on,” psychosis, various forms of cancer, pulmonary function, and more. It’s been found that the cannabinoid system plays a role in PTSD and may be helpful for treatment and improvement of PTSD symptoms.

On Wednesday, August 4, 2021, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2022 (“2022 VA Appropriations Bill”) that allows doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend and discuss cannabis treatments for veterans in states with legal medical cannabis programs, and document their usage in medical records. The amendment to the bill would prohibit the VA from using appropriated funds to interfere with the ability of veterans to participate in state-legal medical marijuana programs or to deny medical services to such veterans.

The amendment is as follows, and is part of a bill to fund the VA for Fiscal Year 2022: 

SEC. ___ None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Veterans Affairs in this Act may be used in a manner that would—

(1) interfere with the ability of a veteran to participate in a medicinal marijuana program approved by a State;

(2) deny any services from the Department to a veteran who is participating in such a program;

or (3) limit or interfere with the ability of a health care provider of the Department to make appropriate recommendations, fill out forms, or take steps to comply with such a program.

Is medical marijuana federally legal? The short answer is no. The federal government currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, however federal medical marijuana legalization is something some lawmakers are constantly working to achieve. The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act was introduced on April 15, 2021, and it temporarily allows veterans to legally possess and use cannabis under federal law if cannabis has been recommended to the veteran by a doctor in accordance with state law.

If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal and you’re a veteran, consider reaching out to your VA doctor to discuss your options. We may be in a state where we can deliver happiness, right to you.

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