Senate Votes in Favor of Military Vets and Marijuana
Veterans may soon have safe access to medical marijuana.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations voted last week 18-12 to allow VA doctors to talk about medical marijuana with military veterans.
The same measure was narrowly defeated in the House in April. But the issue received new life thanks to sponsoring Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkely (D-OR) just before Memorial Day.
Although thousands of vets across the country access cannabis under state programs, VA physicians were not allowed to even discuss the therapy with their patients. Unlike their civilian counterparts, VA doctors cannot recommend medical marijuana.
“We are thrilled that Senator Daines and a majority of his committee colleagues stood up for the rights of V.A. doctors and the well being of our combat veterans who put their lives on the line for this country,” said Mike Liszewski, Americans for Safe Access’ government affairs director. “Veterans disproportionately suffer from a number of conditions that can be effectively treated with medical marijuana, such as chronic pain, PTSD, phantom limb syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and cancer from battlefield exposure to carcinogens, just to name a few.”
Mike Whiter, a Marine Corp vet who lives in Philadelphia, has experienced the benefits of cannabis firsthand.
“When I got home from Iraq in 2006 and was thrust into the VA healthcare system, I was very ill, I was over-medicated and I was suicidal,” he tells Freedom Leaf. “In 2012, at the age of 35, I decided to stop taking pills and start using cannabis instead. After six years of living as a zombie, cannabis saved my life.”
The vote happened on May 21 as dozens of marijuana advocates were meeting with legislators in Washington, DC during NORML’s Fly-In lobby day.
“Today the Senate Appropriations Committee has just restored the rights of Veteran to have an honest dialogue with his/her physician about the benefits and risks of medical cannabis,” said Scott Murphy President of Veterans for Safe Access and Compassionate Care. “Veterans throughout America will benefit because of this vote.”
Image via Mike Whiter Photography