- The Washington Times - Friday, April 26, 2019

Three separate marijuana bills affecting military veterans will be discussed by a House subcommittee next week, the panel announced late Thursday.

The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health has scheduled a legislative hearing for Tuesday morning to discuss proposals including the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, the Veterans Equal Access Act and the Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act.

The hearing is slated to be the second to focus on federal marijuana reform since the 116th Congress convened in January under Democratic control.

Marijuana is prohibited under federal law but permitted in most states to varying degrees, including 33 and counting where doctors can recommend pot to patients to treat certain conditions.

Former service members residing in states that have legalized medicinal marijuana are unable to obtain a recommendation through the Department of Veterans Affairs since the agency and its vast network of hospitals and doctors are federally controlled, however.

Introduced in January by Rep. Lou Correa, California Democrat, passage of VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act would require the agency to conduct clinical trials to study the potential benefits of marijuana for veterans seeking treatment for conditions such as chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

“I am grateful to once again go before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to advocate for countless veterans in need of non-opioid pain management options,” Mr. Correa told Marijuana Moment where the hearing was first reported Friday.

“All across the United States veterans want access to cannabis. It’s Congress’s job to get to work and give them the access they need,” said Mr. Correa.

Both the Veterans Equal Access Act and the Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act contain provisions that would allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans living in states where it’s permitted if passed. They were introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon Democrat, and Rep. Greg Steube, Florida Republican, respectively.

“For too long, our veterans have been denied access to highly effective medical marijuana treatment for conditions like chronic pain and PTSD,” Mr. Blumenauer, the co-founder and chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said when he introduced his bill last month with bipartisan support. “Medical marijuana has shown proven benefits for treating these conditions and denying our veterans access to them is shameful.

The VA did not immediately return a request for comment.

Marijuana “is illegal under federal law, and until federal law changes, VA is not able to prescribe it,” a VA official told The Washington Times last month.

Marijuana reform bills failed to gain steam during the 115th Congress under Republican control, but Democrats have taken considerably greater interest in the issue during what Mr. Blumenauer has referred to as “the most pro-cannabis Congress in history.”

The first hearing congressional hearing on marijuana reform this Congress, “Challenges and Solutions: Access to Banking Services for Cannabis-Related Businesses,” was held in February by the House Financial Services Committee.

Led by Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, the committee has since voted 45-15 in favor of a related bill, the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019, that provides legal protections for the operators of state-legal marijuana businesses. A full House vote has not yet been scheduled. 

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide