The issue of how medical marijuana fits into Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits has been a hot topic for at least several years. Now, a new bill has been introduced that could provide an increased level of protection for veterans using medical marijuana.
While the bill doesn’t necessarily make medical marijuana part of the VA’s offerings, it could give veterans much-needed protections if they use it on their own.
New Medical Marijuana Bill for Veterans
The new bill was introduced into Congress yesterday by Florida Representative Greg Steube. Interestingly, Steube is a veteran himself.
The new bill focuses on a few key issues. If it eventually passes into law, the bill would:
- Ensure that veterans in weed-legal states will never lose federal benefits for consuming cannabis. Importantly, this rule would apply to future legislation and administrations.
- The measure would allow VA doctors to discuss medical marijuana with their patients.
- Similarly, VA doctors would be allowed to recommend medical marijuana to patients.
- Make it possible for VA doctors to adjust treatment plans to include and account for medical marijuana.
- Allow VA physicians to record medical marijuana consumption in their patients’ medical records.
Essentially, the new bill serves to enshrine current guidelines about VA benefits and medical marijuana. In particular, it guarantees that moving into the future, veterans can never be stripped of their VA benefits for using medical marijuana.
“I think this bill is outstanding,” retired Air Force veteran Cheri Hill told Boston 25 News. “It protects this right for veterans in the future in general, so the policy can’t change.”
” was definitely a game-changer for me,” she said. “It makes a dramatic difference.”
Now, if Steube’s bill moves into law, Hill and veterans like her will be able to use medical marijuana without any fear that federal benefits could be taken away.
VA and Medical Marijuana
This isn’t the first time lawmakers have addressed the issue of medical marijuana and the VA.
In fact, there is a relatively long history of attempts to make medical marijuana more accessible through the VA. But unfortunately, most of those attempts have failed to make big changes.
In recent years, there have been a number of bills aimed at allowing VA doctors to actively recommend medical marijuana to veteran patients.
The main challenge has to do with federal law. Specifically, even though some form of marijuana is now legal in at least 30 states, it remains illegal at the federal level.
As a result, there are strict limits on what VA programs can do when it comes to medical marijuana. Under current rules, veterans are allowed to consume medical marijuana on their own. And law enforcement cannot strip those veterans of their VA benefits for doing so.
But as reported by Boston 25 News, VA doctors can’t recommend or prescribe medica marijuana to their patients. And obviously, the VA cannot provide medical marijuana to patients.