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Veterans

  • by Representative Earl Blumenauer April 30, 2019

    A poll commissioned by the American Legion showed that more than 1 in 5 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition. VA healthcare providers, however, are prohibited from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a state-legal medical cannabis recommendation, forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Seeking care is hard enough, and we should not make it even harder for our veterans.

    That’s why I testified today to the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health regarding my legislation, the Veterans Equal Access Act, HR 1647, which would lift this prohibition.

    The reefer madness days are done and it’s time for Congress and the VA to face the facts surrounding marijuana — most pointedly, it’s medicinal benefits for veterans. More and more veterans are reportedly using cannabis to help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and several other ailments.

    Join me in sending a message to Congress now in support of veterans healthcare rights.

    I introduced the Veterans Equal Access Act because it is my responsibility as a Member of Congress to ensure that all Americans have access to medical treatment as recommended by their physicians.

    Today, you can make a difference and show your true support for veterans and the efficacy of medical cannabis.  Tell your members of Congress now to support the Veterans Equal Access Act – because our veterans need more from our government than words of support, we need action.

    Courage,
    Earl

     

    Earl Blumenauer
    Member of Congress

     

  • by NORML April 29, 2019

    On April 30, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing for multiple pieces of legislation, including the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, the Veterans Equal Access Act and the Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act.

    In the last Congress, the previous iteration of the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act was passed by the Committee, yet was not advanced to the floor by the Republican leadership of the time. The legislation “would direct VA to conduct clinical research with varying forms of medicinal cannabis to evaluate the safety and effects of cannabis on health outcomes of veterans with PTSD and veterans with chronic pain.”

    The Veterans Equal Access Act has been introduced for a number of sessions now by Representative Earl Blumenauer, the co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, yet has yet to receive consideration until now. Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of this bill would lift this prohibition.

    The Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act similar legislation the Veterans Equal Access Act and is the first time that is has been introduced to Congress.

    You can send a message in favor of the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act to your lawmakers by clicking HERE. 

    You can send a message in favor of the Veterans Equal Access Act to your lawmakers by clicking HERE. 

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director March 14, 2019

    In the House, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a founder and co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, has reintroduced H.R. 1647, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which expands medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans.

    Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of this bill would lift this prohibition.

    At the time of introduction, Rep. Blumenauer said, “For too long, our veterans have been denied access to highly effective medical marijuana treatment for conditions like chronic pain and PTSD. Medical marijuana has shown proven benefits for treating these conditions denying our veterans access to them is shameful. This simple bill would align veterans VA treatment with their very popular state laws, usually approved by the voters. This legislation would guarantee our veterans fair and equal treatment, along with the ability to consult with their own physician on all treatment options. It’s past time we provide them with the care they need and deserve.”

    Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of the Veterans Equal Access Act

    In the 114th Congress, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

    Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Post-traumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.

    A recently released poll conducted by The American Legion showed that nearly 1 in 4 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition.

    Our veterans deserve the option to legally access a botanical product that is objectively safer than the litany of pharmaceutical drugs it could replace.

    Send a message now to your lawmakers

  • by NORML

    The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act (HR 1687) is bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Don Young (R-AK) to explicitly bar federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a cannabis consumer, or due to testing positive for marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

    Click here to send a message to your member of Congress and urge them to support this effort.

    Enacted in 1986, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program made it a condition for employment that all civilian employees at executive branch agencies be prohibited from using federally illegal substances on or off duty. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 31 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, and 46 states have some form of medical marijuana law; however, it remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, federal employees can be denied employment or terminated due to testing positive for marijuana metabolites, even if their use is in compliance with state law. This conflict between state and federal laws limits treatment options and federal employment opportunities, particularly impacting veterans who comprise approximately one-third of the federal workforce and whose medical cannabis use to treat chronic pain and PTSD has been found to be double the rate of the general public. A recent American Legion poll found that one in five veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

    “For our veterans’, cannabis has been shown to address chronic pain and PTSD, often replacing addictive and harmful opioids. At the same time, the federal government is the largest employer of our veterans’ community. This conflict, between medical care and maintaining employment, needs to be resolved,” said Congressman Crist. “For federal employees complying with state cannabis law, they shouldn’t have to choose between a proven treatment and their job.”

    “I’m pleased to join Representative Crist in introducing this legislation today. I truly believe that this Congress we will see real reform of our nation’s cannabis laws – reform based on a states’ right approach,” said Congressman Don Young. “This bill would protect federal workers, including veterans, from discrimination should they be participating in activities compliant with state-level cannabis laws on their personal time. The last thing we need is to drive talented workers away from these employment opportunities.  As a Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus I remain committed to promoting this bill as well as other legislation to protect individuals and reform our federal cannabis laws.”

    “The discriminatory practice of pre-employment drug testing for cannabis disproportionately hurts the ability for veterans and medical patients to achieve economic security and a feeling of self-worth,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “In order to protect the individual liberties of would-be employees and best position the federal government to attract top talent, the harmful ‘Green Box’ must be destroyed. The bipartisan nature of this effort and the bill’s sponsors underscore the absurdity of the status quo and we appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Charlie Crist and Don Young.”

    Changes in the legal status of marijuana at the state level have not negatively impacted workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that the legalization of medical marijuana access is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

    Send a message to your Representative in support of this legislation now!

  • by Jax Finkel, Texas NORML Executive Director February 28, 2019

    On Monday, Texans Veterans met at the Capitol to meet with their legislators and advocate for a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Texas. We started off with a training where we covered the legislative process, current medical marijuana bills and messaging. Watch the training from Texas Veteran Lobby Day. Representative Gina Hinojosa addressed the attendees about our need to improve Texas’ medical program and her bill which would allow for an affirmative defense for patients that are not enrolled in the program. Then veterans broke out to visit their legislators offices to meet with legislators and legislative aides.

    Afterwards, we met up at the Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana Educational exhibit. Some veterans dropped off their pill bottles with a message in the casket that was displayed. There were also educational graphics displayed and resource handouts for people to take. The display was powerful and started many conversations about patient’s needs to have an option to prescription drugs. Take a virtual tour of the Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana Educational Exhibit.Watch the video that played in the exhibit.

    View photos from the entire day.

    News Coverage:

    KVUE – Veterans Pushing for Medical Marijuana

    KWTX – Veterans Call on Legislators for Medical Marijuana

    Spectrum News – Texas Veterans Seek Access to Medical Marijuana

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