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Published on November 14th, 2015 | by News Feed

Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Treatments for Veterans

It’s taken a great deal of time and lobbying, but the Federal government has started to soften its stance on the topic of medical marijuana. It was exciting to see members of both the Republican and Democrat parties agree on marijuana reform in a new bill that allows physicians who are working with veterans to explore the possibility of using medical marijuana as part of the their treatment program. This historic bill means that the veterans and their physicians will now be free to take part in whatever medical marijuana program their home state has created, something they couldn’t do before without facing harsh penalties.

The Deputy Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance pushed for the bill to be accepted. “Veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor. It makes no sense that a veteran can’t use medical marijuana if it helps them and it is legal in their state.”

Previously, physicians aligned with the Department of Veterans Affairs have been told that they aren’t allowed to even bring up the topic of medical marijuana to their patients. Furthermore, if one of their patients tests positive for the drug, they will no longer be eligible to receive prescription painkillers, even if they’re in a state that has legalized the use of medical marijuana.

Changes to medical marijuana legislation for Veterans has been shot down in previous votes, but now things are finally taking a turn in the fight direction. Since the Senate has approved the bill, it will be officially included on the next Federal Spending bill.

Despite the fact that the Republican Party voted against the concept when it was put before the House, one of the two biggest supporters was Steve Daines, a Republican Senator from Montana. He aligned himself with Jeff Merkley, a Democratic senator who represents Oregon, to convince the U.S. Senate to approve the change and put partisan politic aside.

At the moment, medical marijuana is legal in the District of Columbia as well as 23 states, but has yet to garner much federal support. In the past, each time the issue was raised, members of the federal government ruled it as a dangerous drug that should not be given federal approval, despite evidence of medical benefits. The lack of federal support has been confusing for doctors and patients in the states that have passed medical marijuana laws, and even more so for veterans.

Hopefully, the fact that the Senate has passed this particular measure signals that medical marijuana is drawing closer to federal approval. Do you think we’re finally seeing a major shift in the way people perceive marijuana?

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