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Kaine, Colleagues Reintroduce Bill to Allow VA to Prescribe Medical Marijuana to Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Brian Schatz (D-HI) and his colleagues in reintroducing legislation to allow doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in states with established medical marijuana programs, including the Commonwealth of Virginia. Under current law, doctors in Virginia are able to prescribe medical marijuana to help patients manage pain; however, doctors at the VA are only allowed to discuss medical marijuana with veterans, but not allowed to prescribe it. This bill would expand program eligibility to allow doctors at VA hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans.

“Virginia already has an established medical marijuana program that has helped patients manage their pain,” said Kaine. “This bill is a commonsense step that would allow doctors at the VA to prescribe the same treatments to veterans and expand research into the use of medical marijuana.”

Specifically, the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would:

  • Create a temporary, five-year safe harbor protection for veterans who use medical marijuana and their doctors where there are established medical marijuana programs.
  • Direct the VA to research how medical marijuana could help veterans better manage diseases and disorders, such as pain management and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Study the relationship between state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs and a reduction in opioid use and misuse among veterans.

Veterans are twice as likely to die from opioid overdoses as non-veterans. This bill could help reduce opioid use by providing better oversight for the use of medical marijuana.

In addition to Kaine and Schatz, the bill is cosponsored by Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act is supported by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), AMVETS, VoteVets, Minority Veterans of America, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Veterans Cannabis Project, NORML, National Cannabis Roundtable, U.S. Pain Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Veteran’s Initiative 22, National Cannabis Industry Association, Council for Federal Cannabis Regulation, Americans for Safe Access, and Hawaiʻi Cannabis Industry Association.

Full text of the bill is available here.