Senate Panel Approves Medical Marijuana for Veterans

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment, offered by Sen. Steve Daines and Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Just one day after the House Rules Committee, led by prohibitionist Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX), blocked multiple amendments related to cannabis from receiving consideration by the full House, a U.S. Senate panel voted on Thursday to allow doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to issue medical marijuana recommendations to military veterans.

Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment, offered by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), on a voice vote, reported the Marijuana Moment.

The measure “simply allows veterans to discuss that option [medical cannabis] with their VA doc or physician,” Daines said during a brief debate.

Merkley added that it is an “incredible inconvenience for veterans to be told they have to seek out a whole new medical system” to get cannabis recommendations.

Among the amendments offered on Wednesday, the most critical one was the Veterans Equal Access, which would allow VA doctors to fill out the authorizing forms needed for veterans to obtain state-legal medical marijuana.

In the past, previous versions of the cannabis recommendation measure have been approved by the full House and Senate, but have never been enacted into law.

Under current VA internal policy, government physicians are barred from filling out medical cannabis recommendations for veterans, even in states where it is legal.

If the measure approved by senators on Thursday is included in final Fiscal Year 2019 spending legislation for the VA, explained Tom Angell in Marijuana Moment, the Veterans Department would no longer be able to enforce its ban on medical marijuana recommendations.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer, (D-OR), author of the amendment and legislation by the same name, blasted Pete Sessions after the Texas prohibitionist scuttled the amendments on Wednesday.

“For the second year, Pete Sessions has shown that he does not care about the health and well-being of our veterans—who are speaking out across the country. All they want is fair and equal treatment, and the ability to consult with their own physician on all treatment options.”

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