H.R. 1647 Seeks to Help Veterans – One of Three Newly Proposed

“The Veterans Administration was right in deferring to US law, but needed to go the extra step for Veterans, something they’ve proven they’re incapable of.”, Dave Barbush, CEO and Chairman of Once a Soldier said recently.

“Opioid abuse is much more deadly than marijuana. Denying them the same rights that many other Americans enjoy boggles the mind. Bill 1947 is called Veterans Equal Access Act for a reason. Big Pharma and the VA need to reconsider their relationship.

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), sponsor of H.R. Bill 1967

During a hearing Tuesday on eight VA health-related bills under consideration by Congress, VA officials told House lawmakers that as long as marijuana is illegal under federal law, the department cannot support legislation that promotes its role at the VA.

“[The House Veterans Affairs Committee] can make strong proposals for us to move forward with recommendations of filling out forms and such but, in the end, we need to go back to the [Drug Enforcement Agency] and [Justice Department] for their opinion,” said Larry Mole, chief consultant for population health at the VA.

Three of the bills before the House Veterans Affairs health subcommittee relate to medical marijuana. One, the Veterans Equal Access Act, H.R. 1647, sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, would allow VA health providers to recommend medical marijuana to their veteran patients and fill out the necessary paperwork for them to enroll in state marijuana programs.

A recently released poll conducted by The American Legion showed that nearly 1 in 4 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition.

From a NORML article:

In the House, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has reintroduced H.R. 1647, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which expands medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans.

Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of this bill would lift this prohibition.

In the 114th Congress, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Post-traumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis.

Our veterans deserve the option to legally access a botanical product that is objectively safer than the litany of pharmaceutical drugs it could replace.

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