Introduction of the Veterans Equal Access Actby Representative Earl Blumenauer
Posted on 2015-02-03
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, today, I am introducing the bipartisan
Veterans Equal Access Act along with my colleagues Dana Rohrabacher,
Walter Jones, Justin Amash, Tom Reed, Richard Hanna, Dina Titus, Sam
Farr and Jared Polis, which will allow Veterans Health Administration
physicians to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states
where it is legal.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that provide for legal access to medical marijuana. As a result, well over one million patients across the country, including many veterans, now use medical marijuana at the recommendation of their physician to treat conditions ranging from seizures, glaucoma, anxiety, chronic pain, and nausea.
There are also nine states and the District of Columbia that now allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana for the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), due to a growing body of anecdotal evidence suggesting that marijuana offers relief when nothing else has.
While outdated federal barriers often prevent the research necessary to develop marijuana into an FDA approved drug, states have heard from their citizens, including veterans suffering from PTS, that marijuana is helping them now, and have adjusted their laws.
Despite this growing state availability of medical marijuana, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) prohibits VA medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding participation in a state marijuana program.
The Veterans Equal Access Act would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to authorize physicians and other health care workers employed by the VA to provide recommendations and opinions regarding the participation of a veteran in a state medical marijuana program. This includes authorizing them to fill out any forms involved in the process of recommending medical marijuana.
Veterans should not be forced outside of the VA system to seek a treatment that is legal in their state. VA physicians should not be denied the ability to offer a recommendation they think may meet the needs of their patient. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this effort.
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