Congressman Joyce leads bipartisan effort to allow VA docs to suggest medicinal hashish to veterans – MJNews Community
Together with Rep. Lee, Senator Schatz, Veterans Safe introduces Marijuana Safe Harbor Act of 2021
DISTRICT COLOMBIA: Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14), along with his Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), introduced the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act of 2021. Senator Brian Schatz (HI) introduced the bill in the Senate.
This bicameral bipartisan legislation would allow U.S. Department of Veterans (VA) doctors to discuss, recommend, and prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in states that have established medical marijuana programs. VA doctors are currently prohibited from doing this as the federal government classifies cannabis as a List I substance. According to a 2017 survey by the American Legion, more than 90% of veteran households support marijuana research and 82% want medical cannabis to be designated as a federal legal treatment option.
“There is growing evidence of the beneficial use of medical cannabis for the treatment of PTSD and chronic pain, two dire conditions that plague many of our veterans,” said Joyce. “If a state has made it legal, as Ohio has done, the federal government shouldn’t prevent a VA doctor from recommending medicinal cannabis if they think the treatment is right for their patient. As the son of a World War II veteran wounded on the battlefield, I have seen firsthand the many challenges our nation’s heroes face when they return home. I am proud to work with my colleagues to introduce this important bill and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that we provide our veterans with the care they need to overcome the wounds of war. “
The legislation would also provide temporary protection for veterans who use medical marijuana and their doctors in a safe haven for five years. Additionally, the bill would direct the VA to investigate the effects of medical marijuana on veterans in pain, as well as the relationship between medical marijuana programs and possible reductions in opioid abuse among veterans.
In a recent study, the researchers found that those who suffer from PTSD and use cannabis experienced greater reductions in their PTSD symptoms and were 2.57 times more likely to recover from PTSD during the study than those who did not use cannabis . Additionally, a 2016 study by the Minnesota Department of Health found that 58% of patients on other pain relievers were able to reduce their use of these drugs when they started using medicinal cannabis. Of the patients taking opioid drugs, more than 62% were able to reduce or eliminate opioid use after 6 months.
According to the VA, nearly 20% of the 2.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD or depression, while more than 50% of the senior veterans cared for in the VA have chronic pain. People with PTSD often have depression, panic attacks, severe anxiety, or a substance problem, which puts them at higher risk of suicide. Tragically, the VA’s most recent annual report shows that nearly 18 veterans take their own lives every day.
Some of the organizations supporting this legislation include: Veterans of the Americas in Iraq and Afghanistan (IAVA), VoteVets, Veterans of America in Minority, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Veterans Cannabis Project, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), NORML , National Cannabis Round Table, U.S. Pain Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Students on Sensitive Drug Policy, Veterans Initiative 22, Arizona Dispensary Association, California Cannabis Industry Association, and Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association.