On Thursday, the House narrowly defeated an amendment that would allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to discuss the use of medical marijuana with veterans. The bill, as part of the 2016 Appropriations Bill for VA and military construction projects, was narrowly defeated by 210-213. A total of 35 Republicans voted for the bill while eight Democrats voted against it, according to The Hill.
Although medical marijuana is legal in about 30 states, VA doctors are prohibited from making recommendations about its use to treat conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to a 2012 report published by the VA, approximately 30 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from PTSD.
Lawmakers argued over the bill, some pointing out that although medical marijuana is prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, it is illegal at the federal level. Critics also argued that it should not be used to treat psychological problems. Those in favor of the bill argued that veterans had a right to access medical marijuana for therapeutic purposes, reports Daily Times Gazette.
Introduced by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore), the bill removed a restriction that had previously prevented VA doctors from educating veterans on both the pros and cons of using medical marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Blumenauer believes prescribing medical marijuana is safer than the normal use of opiates commonly prescribed by VA doctors for various conditions including PTSD.
Tom Angell, of the Marijuana Majority, and a proponent of the bill, criticized what he considered a senseless rule against the use of medical marijuana, per The Weed Blog.
“While it’s disappointing that the House just voted to continue a senseless rules that prevents doctors from treating military veterans with a medicine proven to work for a number of serious conditions, the fact that we came so close is a good sign of things to come. It is no longer considered politically risky for elected officials to work on scaling back the failed federal war on marijuana, as the 210 ‘yea’ votes we just saw demonstrates. This is just the first in what will be a series of important marijuana votes in Congress this year, and we expect to win more than we lose, just like we did last year.”
Even if the bill were passed, it would only allow veterans in 23 states to hear about the use of medical marijuana to treat their conditions. Some evidence has been used to support its use in treating PTSD in veterans. Currently the federal government has given the go ahead for research to determine whether medical marijuana will help effectively PTSD in veterans.
Do you believe that medical marijuana is a viable treatment for PTSD in veterans?
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