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Veterans

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

    Next week, the two key committees will hold hearings on various aspects of federal marijuana policy.

    The first will be held on Wednesday, June 19th, in the Small Business Committee, entitled Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry. 

    Currently, in the 10 states that have legalized adult use cannabis and the 33 states that have legalized medical marijuana programs, entrepreneurs and small businesses are unable to access the valuable programs and support of the Small Business Administration. Ultimately, this prohibition on access to resources hampers the potential to create a robust and competitive marketplace for consumers.

    It is expected that members of the committee will soon introduce legislation to address this issue and this hearing will mark the first time that Congress has discussed the issue in a formal capacity.

     

    The second hearing is to be held on Thursday, June 20th, in the Veterans Affairs Committee to discuss various bills that are pending regarding medical cannabis programs and veterans access. For years, NORML has supported legislation introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, entitled The Veterans Equal Access Act, which would allow veterans living in states that have a regulated medical marijuana program to discuss cannabis as part of their healthcare plan and allow VA doctors to fill out state-legal paperwork.

    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 either of these bills would lift this prohibition.

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

    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. Similar language was also included during the 115th Congress in the Senate yet stripped out by Republican leadership.

    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.

    You can see a full list of pending federal efforts and contact your lawmakers in support at https://norml.org/act.

     

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 10, 2019

    Marijuana and OpioidsMilitary veterans who participate in a state’s medical marijuana access program frequently report substituting cannabis for alcohol and other controlled substances, according to data published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

    A team of investigators from Palo Alto University in California, Harvard University, and the Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia surveyed marijuana use patterns in 93 US military veterans participating in a medical cannabis collective.

    Nearly 80 percent of respondents reported using cannabis “to treat both physical and mental health symptoms.” Respondents were most likely to report using cannabis therapeutically to mitigate symptoms of chronic pain (69 percent), anxiety (66 percent), post-traumatic stress (59 percent), and depression (56 percent).

    Over 60 percent of respondents said that they consumed cannabis as a substitute for other illicit or licit substances, particularly alcohol. Nearly half of all respondents said that they use medical cannabis in place of other prescription medications.

    Authors concluded, “The current study also confirms the findings of previous studies that have documented a trend in substitution behavior, where cannabis is substituted for other drugs, which, if associated with reduced harm, could be beneficial for overall health.”

    Under existing federal regulation, physicians affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs may not legally provide the paperwork necessary for veterans to obtain medical cannabis in states that regulate its access.

    The abstract of the study, “A cross-sectional examination of choice and behavior of veterans with access to free medicinal cannabis,” is online here. Additional information is available in the NORML fact-sheet “Marijuana and Veteran Issues.”

  • 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

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