November 14, 2018

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Democratic ally back medical marijuana bills for veterans

Orlando Weekly

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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.

Gaetz, a Northwest Florida Republican, joined with U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., to prepare three bills that seek to learn more about how veterans use cannabis, to prepare better medical-marijuana education for providers and to protect the benefits of veterans who use marijuana.

“Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers. Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana —- including our veterans,” Moulton said in a statement. “We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible. We also have an obligation to make sure our veterans are getting the best health care in the world. We have a long road ahead of us until medicinal cannabis is fully researched and legal, but we can take a few steps now to start figuring that out.”

A 2011 study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that Veterans Health Administration patients were nearly twice as likely as the general population to die of an accidental opioid overdose, and recent survey data from the American Legion shows that veterans and their caregivers are interested in having medical marijuana as a treatment option.