Ohio Veterans and Medical Marijuana
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Legislation has been submitted that would shield military veterans with an active medical marijuana card provided by a state-run program from losing their federal benefits. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), would additionally allow physicians at the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend cannabis to their patients.
Ultimately, the bill would preserve those protections so they couldn’t be changed by a future administration. Furthermore, the legislation would also amend VA rules that currently prevent VA doctors from filling out forms for veterans to obtain medical marijuana even if in a state-approved program.
Currently, VA physicians are only allowed to discuss medical marijuana with patients, and document their usage in medical records. This bill, titled the "Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act," would broadly protect veterans participating in a state-approved marijuana program. If this language goes forward, it would protect those who use state-approved recreational cannabis in addition to those in medical programs.
“It’s important that we respect states’ rights as outlined in the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution,” - Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL)
This piece of legislation joins efforts such as Rep. Earl Blumenauer's (D-OR) bill that would allow the VA to recommend medical marijuana to veterans. The bill currently has a bipartisan list of cosponsors, and the hope is if enough House members cosponsor the bill it could generate momentum for riders expected to be added to appropriations legislation.
This is not the first time that there have been congressional attempts to expand access to cannabis for veterans. Last year, the Senate decided by a vote of 85-9 to advance an appropriations bill that included a similar cannabis recommendation rider - then-House Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) blocked the amendment from even receiving the opportunity at a vote.
Additionally, in 2016, both the House and Senate passed language allowing VA providers to fill out medical cannabis recommendation forms, but neither proposal made it to the final legislation.
“For too long, our veterans have been denied access to highly effective medical marijuana treatment for conditions like chronic pain and PTSD. Medical marijuana has shown proven benefits for treating these conditions and denying our veterans access to them is shameful,” Blumenauer said in a press release.
This legislation plays off the prevailing idea in Congress that the VA should conduct research on the medical benefits of marijuana for veterans. In January of this year multiple bills were introduced that would require the VA to conduct clinical trials on how cannabis can help veterans suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and PTSD.
The issue that seems to be holding up this piece of legislation is a disagreement between the process to carry out such a mandate. While the most recent bill was filed by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), a day earlier Reps. Lou Correa (D-CA) and Clay Higgins (R-LA) introduced their own Medicinal Cannabis Research Act in concert with Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) whom filed an identical companion bill.
According to the press secretary for the House Committee on Veteran's Affairs, the concern with the Correa-led bill is that it would be too restrictive on the scientists conducting the studies. Rep. Roe "believes we need to let the scientist do the science," further explaining that "we should require the VA to do this research, but also should let the scientists have the freedom to do their job."
During the previous Congress, the House version of the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act became the first standalone piece of marijuana legislation to ever clear a congressional panel after the House Veterans' Affairs Committee approved it.
If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.
Click here to learn more about what Ohio Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (1-866-457-5559) and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.