An unlikely pair of bipartisan lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that would reform the Department of Veteran Affairs’ medical marijuana practices. The trio of bills from Reps. Matthew Gaetz (R-FL) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) would force the VA’s hands to include medical cannabis.
Specifically, the legislation would ensure protection for veterans open about their medical marijuana usage, enact a national survey to understand how many veterans want or use medical cannabis and for what purposes, and partner the VA with medical universities focused on medical marijuana education, which would be provided to veterans.
“Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids, and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers,” Moulton said in a statement. “Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana—including our veterans. We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible.”
Similar legislation involving the VA and medical cannabis have been introduced to the House before and failed. Gaetz himself is responsible for some of those attempts. But with the Democrats taking control of the House and anti-cannabis crony Pete Sessions losing his gatekeeping position as chairman of the House Rules Committee, the team behind the bills is more hopeful than ever.
“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.”
According to an American Legion survey, one in five veterans currently uses cannabis to treat a medical condition. The same survey also states that 92 percent of veteran households support research into the efficacy of medical cannabis for mental and physical ailments.