Doctors and the Department of Veterans Affairs will be allowed to prescribe medical marijuana for their patients after two Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate permits them to do so. On Wednesday, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida and Senator Bill Schatz from Hawaii launched the law, the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act. Another measure called the Veterans Equal Access Act (HR 1820), is awaiting approval by the House of Representatives.
According to Nelson’s statement in a press release, the bill will permit veterans to receive similar treatment alternatives accessible to others through a short-term 5-year safe harbor program.
Nelson said that the federal constitution stops VA doctors from recommending medicinal cannabis to veterans. He also said that the bill would permit veterans in Florida and nationwide to have similar access to legally prescribed medication, identical to any other patient in those 31 states would have.
According to the text of the bill, if the bill is successfully passed, it will permit veterans to “utilize, carry, or transport medical marijuana in line with the laws of the State in which the utilization, carry, or transport happens,”
According to the findings from the bill, medical marijuana can be a helpful way to solve the country’s epidemic of opioid overdoses by offering veterans another way to cure chronic pain.
The bill states that “Chronic pain is a serious issue to the veteran population, with about 60 percent of veterans who served the Armed Forces in the Middle East, and at least 50 percent of older veterans, who use the health care system of health the Department of Veterans Affairs suffering from different types of chronic pain,”.
“Opioids has led to about 63 percent of all deaths related to drugs in the United States. In 2011, veterans had a high probability of dying from accidental opioid overdoses as nonveterans. States that have medical cannabis laws produce a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate in contrast to with States lacking medical cannabis laws. Marijuana compounds have a high probability of curing different illnesses and disorders, such as pain management. Medical marijuana found in legal States can be a safer alternative to opioids in treating veterans.”
Bill Also Calls For Research
The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act also wants the VA to research “the impacts of medical marijuana on veterans suffering from chronic pain.”
The bill also approves research on the connection between treatment programs including medical marijuana that is authorized by States, the availability of such programs to veterans, and a decrease in the use of opioids within veterans. The bills want about $15 million of the VA’s acquisition for both the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years to be used on the research.
According to the political director of cannabis activist group NORML, Justin Strekal, the measure offers protection to veterans who want to use medicinal cannabis.
Strekal stated that the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act should offer essential medicinal and national security for the soldiers who decided to serve their country. It is unethical that these fearless people who secure America’s freedom would be seen as criminals when they return home just for handling their medical illnesses with a secure and useful alternative. We thank the influence of Senators Schatz and Nelson in making this legislation successful.