Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) introduced a bill Thursday that would allow doctors for the Department of Veteran Affairs to recommend medical marijuana to patients in states where it is legal.
The Veterans Equal Access Act (PDF) comes at a much-needed time — nearly a third of returning veterans suffer from some form of PTSD, and cannabis has been shown to help treat it. According to the Huffington Post, cannabis is currently an accepted treatment for PTSD in 10 states, but VA doctors cannot recommend it or even give opinions because of federal drug scheduling. The Veterans Equal Access Act would remove that restriction for the VA.
An additional 13 states, making for 23 total, allow the use of medical marijuana for various conditions, and a move like this opens the door a little bit wider for the federal government to reconsider cannabis, as well — at the very least, it should be decided state-by-state and the Schedule 1 designation should be removed. For the record, according to the DEA, cannabis is worse than cocaine, meth, and oxycodone. Realistic consideration of marijuana would allow federal funding for research.
‘Post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury are just as damaging and harmful as any injuries that are visible from the outside,’ Blumenauer said. ‘Sometimes even more so because of the devastating effect they can have on a veteran’s family. We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows. It’s shameful.’
Nearly 30 percent of veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTSD and depression, according to a 2012 report from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some scientists have suggested that marijuana may help PTSD symptoms, which can include anxiety, flashbacks and depression. In a recent study, patients who smoked cannabis saw an average 75 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms.
There are 10 cosigners on the bill, five Republicans and five Democrats:
- Justin Amash (R-MI)
- Paul Broun (R-GA)
- Steve Stockman (R-TX)
- Walter Jones (R-NC)
- Thomas Massie (R-KY)
- Steve Cohen (D-TN)
- Sam Farr (D-CA)
- Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
- Jared Polis (D-CO)
- Dina Titus (D-NV)
Hopefully this bill passes, and continues the trend of common-sense marijuana reform.