updates on new Medical Issues
VA Could Prescribe
Pot to Veterans Under New Bill
11, 2015 | by Travis J. Tritten
WASHINGTON -- VA doctors
could refer veterans to state medical marijuana programs under a landmark
reform bill floated in the Senate on Tuesday.
The bill would end the
federal prohibition against pot as a medical treatment, clearing away any
ambiguity for patients in states that have approved its use. It mirrors a House
bill filed last month and specifically allows physicians and health care
providers at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the country to
Medical marijuana has
been approved by 23 states and the District of Columbia for treatment of a
variety of afflictions, including glaucoma, cancer and HIV. But the VA is a
federal agency that follows federal law, under which pot is still illegal, and
patients cannot get access through its facilities.
The reforms are overdue
and would allow the prescription, use and sale without fear of prosecution,
according to the bills’ sponsors, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Rand Paul,
R-Ky.; and Cory Booker, D-N.J.
The House bill allowing
the VA to prescribe medical pot is sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.,
and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.
The federal government
has followed the lead of states and eased enforcement of marijuana laws in
In 2010, the Obama
administration asked prosecutors not to go after medical marijuana sellers and
the Department of Justice announced in 2013 that it would not challenge states
that have decriminalized or legalized pot, according to the National Conference
of State Legislatures.
Veterans have been
advocating to state governments and Congress for access to medical marijuana to
treat post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that might affect about 20
percent of the 1.8 million servicemembers deployed to the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, according to the National Center for PTSD