WASHINGTON, DC — Medical marijuana can offer many benefits to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and chronic pain. Its use, though, is too often stigmatized.
Last week, Congressman Seth Moulton introduced new legislation that would normalize the use of medical marijuana by veterans. The legislation would encourage veterans to openly discuss medicinal cannabis with their health care providers, and it would make it illegal for veterans to lose their benefits for using cannabis.
“Veterans are twice as likely to die from an opioid overdose than civilian Americans. This is why we need to normalize the use of medical marijuana among veterans as a safer, non-addictive alternative for chronic pain relief,” Congressman Moulton said. “Veterans chose to serve our country, and many will deal with resulting health issues for the rest of their lives. It’s our responsibility to ensure that returning service members have access to every solution that allows them to live free of pain or anxiety.”
Although current VA policy does not allow discrimination against veterans who acquire medical marijuana cards in states where it is allowed, many veterans still choose not to discuss their legal medical marijuana use with health care providers for fear of losing their benefits or being classified as addicted to a Schedule 1 substance. VA providers also cannot currently support or recommend medical marijuana use to address chronic pain or mental health issues.
Specifically, the legislation would:
- Mandate that VA medical providers must honor the desires of their patients to seek alternative forms of treatment, and acknowledge medical cannabis use as a legitimate alternative treatment
- Establish legal protections so veterans do not lose their benefits for using cannabis
- Protect providers who discuss cannabis use as part of comprehensive treatment plans from any adverse action
- Provide for research on cannabis use for veterans to determine the best ways to safely and properly use and regulate cannabis
- Establish partnerships and programs for VA primary care providers to receive training on use of medical marijuana and medicinal cannabis
This legislation is the latest example of Congressman Moulton’s ongoing efforts to improve the lives of veterans in the United States, while also destigmatizing mental health issues.
Full bill text can be found here.