U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and a Massachusetts Democrat on Wednesday introduced a package of legislation to change the Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical marijuana practices in an attempt to make cannabis a more realistic treatment option for veterans.
“Medical cannabis has tremendous potential for veterans. It can reduce chronic pain, without the harmful side effects of opioids, and some early reports indicate that it may even have potential as a treatment for PTSD,” Gaetz said in a statement. “Unfortunately, many veterans fear discussing medical cannabis with their doctors, for fear that their benefits will be jeopardized.”
The second bill directs the VA to conduct a nationwide survey of all veterans and VA health care providers to learn more about how veterans are using marijuana.
The American Legion reported last year that 22 percent of veterans are using marijuana to treat a medical condition, and 83 percent of veteran households surveyed indicated that they think the federal government should legalize medical cannabis and 82 percent said they want to have medical cannabis as a federally-legal treatment option.
In 2016, the American Legion resolved to “urge the Drug Enforcement Agency to license privately funded medical-marijuana production operations in the United States to enable safe and efficient cannabis drug development research,” and to “urge Congress to amend legislation to remove marijuana from schedule I and reclassify it in a category that, at a minimum, will recognize cannabis as a drug with potential medical value.”
The third bill Moulton and Gaetz rolled out Wednesday would instruct the VA to partner with colleges or universities that “have incorporated medical cannabis education into their curriculum” to develop continuing education programs for VA health care providers.
Moulton’s office said the bundle of three bills has been endorsed by the Drug Policy Alliance, National Cannabis Industry Association and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.