Last week was a promising one for veterans as a House committee advanced a medical marijuana bill. In Ohio, recreational cannabis took a huge step forward. Find out more in our weekly marijuana legislative roundup.
On Tuesday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee approved a bill that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to research the medical utility and safety of marijuana for common ailments afflicting veterans. If enacted, the VA Medical Cannabis Research Act would authorize the VA to “conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety [of medical marijuana]… on the health outcomes of covered veterans diagnosed with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], and other conditions.” The VA would research marijuana in both whole plant and concentrate forms, including at least three different strains of cannabis with varying levels of THC and CBD. A companion bill was also introduced in the Senate.
Related Story: Good News For Vets: Marijuana Bill Passes In House Committee
A separate provision of a VA funding bill that passed the US House Appropriations Committee Tuesday urges the VA to expand marijuana research. The directive was attached to the Department of Veterans Affairs funding bill for 2019 and requests that the VA study the effectiveness and safety of cannabis-based treatments for PTSD, chronic pain, and other conditions. The amount spent on such research would be determined by the DA Secretary, who is asked to provide a report to Congress within 180 days. However, the provision is attached to the bill in such a way that it is legally nonbinding.
On Thursday, a proposed constitutional amendment on recreational cannabis legalization passed a procedural hurdle that could allow it to be placed on the ballot in 2019. After rejecting a previous version of the legislation in April, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine certified the Marijuana Rights and Regulations amendment. It will now go to the state Ballot Board for approval before its backers can begin collecting the 305,591 signatures needed to place it on the ballot, though it is they will be able to gather enough signatures by the July deadline for ballot placement this year. If approved by a majority of voters, the Marijuana Rights and Regulations amendment would allow adults 21 and older to grow, possess, consume, share, sell, and transport marijuana. It would also give the state Legislature authority to devise a licensing and regulatory system and allow municipal control over cannabis businesses, which would only be permitted within precincts where a majority voted in favor of legalization.