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U.S. House Committee Approves Two Medical Marijuana Bills

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The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved bipartisan bills on March 12 that would increase access to state-legal medical marijuana for military veterans and increase research into the potential medical benefits of marijuana for health conditions commonly diagnosed in America’s veterans.

The committee approved the Veterans Equal Access Act in a 15-11 vote and approved the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act in a voice vote with no opposition, the Marijuana Policy Project reported.

Sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the Veterans Equal Access Act (H.R. 1647) would allow doctors and other healthcare workers employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana in compliance with state laws and fill out any forms necessary to certify patients for a state medical marijuana program.

Sponsored by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act (H.R. 712) would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct clinical trials researching the health outcomes of using medical marijuana to treat chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Today’s committee vote is an encouraging step forward for federal cannabis reform,” said MPP. “Now that a majority of states have legalized cannabis for medical use, it is indefensible to restrict veterans’ ability to access medical cannabis through their VA providers while members of Congress can use their federally subsidized health insurance to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their doctors. Federal law should not criminalize veterans for trying to find relief.”

A study by the American Legion found that veterans overwhelmingly support federally legalizing medical marijuana (83%) and support research into medical marijuana (92%).

To date, 33 states and Washington, D.C. have effective medical marijuana programs.