The Senate recently passed a bill that would enable veterans to discuss and be recommended medical cannabis by Veterans Affairs doctors.
In November 2023, the Senate approved a bill that, if signed into law, would allow doctors at the department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recommend cannabis as a treatment, but only in states where cannabis is legal (1). The Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilConVA) measure passed with a vote of 82 -15, with the amendment concerning veteran access to medical cannabis added earlier this year (1). The MilConVa provides “support for critical housing, infrastructure, and facilities for U.S. military forces and their families, as well as increased funding for veterans health care and benefits,” (2).
The cannabis amendment in the Senate bill states (1):
Sec. 260. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Veterans Affairs in this Act may be used in a manner that would—
Several months ago, the House passed its MilConVa bill, also with a medical cannabis amendment, though with different wording (1). Before the final version of the bill can be enacted into law by the president, the discrepancies will need to be resolved (1).
“It's a mistake to assume veterans aren't turning to cannabis for pain relief and putting their benefits at risk in return,” stated Andrew Freedman, Executive Director of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation in a recent opinion piece (3). “Today, 83% of U.S. veterans support medical cannabis programs – with 68% of U.S. voters supporting federal cannabis reform. It's a shame our nation's bravest must seek treatment discreetly, concealing it from their own doctors for fear of losing benefits. Yet, they lack the research-backed products they deserve. We must advocate on their behalf, as many feel they cannot admit use or seek help openly.”