Viewpoint: Medical marijuana proposals leave out veterans

Though legislation was introduced earlier this month to limit the federal government from interfering with cannabis consumption and commerce in states where it is legal, the bill does not allow access to medical marijuana for veterans, according to an op-ed by Nick Etten, founder of the Veterans Cannabis Project, in The Hill.

Mr. Etten, a former Navy SEAL, says that under the States Act proposed by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., the Veterans Health Administration would still treat cannabis as a schedule 1 substance, which bars veterans from pursuing it as a treatment option under VHA physicians.

"While VHA physicians have been quick to prescribe powerful and dangerous drug cocktails [opiates and benzodiazepines] in response to these and other service-related conditions, how could the federal government continue to deny veterans legal access to medical cannabis as a demonstrably safer alternative treatment option?" Mr. Etten writes. "It's an option veterans should not only have, it's one they clearly want."

According to an American Legion survey of veterans households, 82 percent of veterans want cannabis to be a federally legal treatment, and 83 percent believe the federal government should legalize medical cannabis.

"Veterans have been pleading with members of Congress and Trump administration officials to enact a law that will give them legal access. It's time for Republican leaders to acknowledge that federal cannabis reform is inevitable, and it’s time for comprehensive action," Mr. Etten writes. "We are counting on President Trump and Congress to deliver a final cannabis reform deal that not only respects 'state's rights,' but respects veterans as well."

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