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WIRE: U.S. House approves measure to allow VA docs to recommend medical marijuana

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill that is intended to ease access to medical marijuana for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, serious injuries, and other debilitating conditions.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar amendment to its version of the bill last month.

The amendment, authored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Joe Heck (R-NV), would prohibit the spending of funds on enforcement of a Veterans Health Administration directive that prohibits VA physicians from recommending medical marijuana to their patients, even in states that have made it legal.

“Prohibiting VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana does nothing to help our veterans,” said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Current VA policy is preventing physicians from thoroughly monitoring patients’ medication decisions and engaging in frank conversations about available treatment options. It dramatically undermines the doctor-patient relationship.”

If enacted, VA physicians would no longer face penalties for discussing medical marijuana with their patients or completing the paperwork patients must submit in order to participate in state medical marijuana programs. Currently, veterans in states with medical marijuana laws must find a doctor outside of the VA system to discuss medical marijuana as a treatment option and provide the requisite documentation.

“This measure removes unnecessary barriers to medical marijuana access for the men and women who have volunteered to serve in our armed forces,” Capecchi said. “It will save veterans time and money, and it will allow them to have more open and honest discussions with their primary care providers.”

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The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization. For more information, visit http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.

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