Medical Cannabis Bills In Congress
Medical cannabis bills are now circulating in Congress aimed at the medical marijuana issue. Consequently, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation focused on easing legal access to medical cannabis for the Veterans Administration nationwide. However, the qualifier is “where state laws permit the use of cannabis”. It also asks for increasing research into the medicinal benefits of this plant. But, at the end of the day, the medicinal use of cannabis is a state issue and not a federal issue. The proper question therefore is, how do we get the state legislators to look at the plight of its veteran community and come to its aid?
“Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act”…
The “Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act” allows veterans to use, possess, or transport medical marijuana. It also allows discussing the use of medical marijuana with a physician of the Department of Veterans Affairs as authorized by a State or Indian Tribe, and for other purposes. Presently 33 states permit medical marijuana use.
What’s in the Bill?
This bill gives VA doctors in states where medical marijuana is the law, the option to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans. In addition to the relaxing of anti-cannabis sentiments, H.R. 5520 allocates $15 million to study marijuana’s effectiveness in treating chronic pain in veterans. It will also study whether access to marijuana can reduce opioid use among veterans. Miraculously, the bill acknowledges that “Research into this treatment is long overdue” with clinical data to back up its claim.
Who knows better about treating the veteran?
The Doctor and the veteran should be the decision-makers when it comes to treatments. Presently, the current federal prohibitions on cannabis are unnecessary, harmful, and prolong the treatment of our veterans. Furthermore, there is no logical reason why the federal government should stand between that veteran and his medicine. Finally, This bill empowers veterans and their doctors to make informed health care decisions, without biased political overreach.
What Are The Chances Of This Bill Passing?
During the 2018 Presidential campaign, the congress and the senate were bombarded with cash from big Pharma for the purpose of maintaining the status quo. The Pharmaceutical industry has been buying Politicians from both sides of the isle ad nauseum. Consequently, this buying of favors is the Achilles Heel of this legislation. With congress beholding to Big Pharma to the tune of $12M in political contributions*. Therefore, we ask, what are the chances that they’ll allow this bill to pass?
Winners and Losers
Who wins, who loses? The winners are the veterans who will finally get the proper treatment they so deserve. Winners are also the doctors who have been searching for ways to treat their patients without over-medicating them. Conversely, the losers are big Pharma. Consider this, if medical marijuana is let out of the bag and big Pharma is not positioned to recapture those treatment dollars, they lose Billions. In addition to Big Pharma, select politicians stand to see their big Pharma coffers dry up.
But Wait, There’s More
Another bill circulating in the House called “Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act” would prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from denying benefits to Veterans simply because of their medical marijuana use in states where cannabis is legal. VA seems to agree with this proposed law and has already made moves to publish its policy on the matter on its website.
VA Policy on Medical Marijuana
The VA official site makes it clear that veterans who use cannabis, pot… are not in danger of losing VA benefits:
Veteran participation in state marijuana programs does not affect eligibility for VA care and services. VA providers can and do discuss marijuana use with Veterans as part of comprehensive care planning, and adjust treatment plans as necessary.
It is safe for veterans to discuss marijuana use with VA staff. Veterans do not need to be concerned with or anticipate punitive measures as a result of informing VA staff of pot use. This policy only applies to retired or separated military members only.