U.S. veterans will finally be allowed access to medical cannabis in states where it is legal following Congressional approval of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill, the Military Times reports.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) offered the amendment to the spending bill prohibiting the VA from using funds to enforce policies preventing doctors from recommending marijuana to their patients. The amendment passed 233-189 in the House; the Senate is expected to pass the full legislation, which was approved by the House 295-129.
“The death rate from opioids among VA health care is nearly double the national average,” Blumenauer said during a debate on the floor. “From what I hear from veterans is that medical marijuana has helped them deal with pain and PTSD, particularly as an alternative to opioids.”
VA researchers released a report last February noting that there have yet to be any “gold standard” studies on using marijuana to treat PTSD but referenced a 2014 study of 10 participants that concluded THC was “safe and well tolerated by patients with chronic PTSD.”
The VA report goes so far as to suggest that “marijuana can be harmful to individuals with PTSD,” urging doctors to refer patients who use marijuana to a substance abuse disorder specialist.
Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, with another 17 allowing physicians to prescribe marijuana oils. PTSD is an approved condition for treatment with cannabis in 14 of those states.