The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved on Thursday an amendment to SB 3024 that ensures access to medical marijuana cannot be denied to veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a press release.
The amendment was introduced to the committee by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana), whose office makes clear it’s both a veterans and states’ rights issue. The amendment does not directly provide or fund medical marijuana but ensures that veterans may discuss with their VA doctors the option of MMJ in those states where it is legal. The amendment also makes it clear that access to other VA services may not be denied to veterans who are participating in a medical marijuana program.
“Veterans should not be discriminated against when they seek care at the VA. They deserve access to the treatment that best suits their medical needs, just like they would receive at a non-VA clinic.” — Sen. Steve Daines, in a statement
Under current VA internal policy, government physicians are prohibited from writing medical cannabis recommendations for veterans. Sen. Daines has a long history of fighting this policy and supporting MMJ access for veterans. He’s been responsible for introducing MMJ-supportive amendments to appropriations bills as far back as 2015, as well as leading a bipartisan group of petitioners to urge VA Secretary Bob McDonald to allow VA doctors to discuss and recommend MMJ to veterans in 2016, among other accomplishments.
If the bill is approved by the legislature as worded, it would force the VA to change its internal policy to allow for medical cannabis.