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Kaine Reintroduces Bill to Allow Dept. of VA to Prescribe Medical Marijuana to Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, joined Senator Brian Schatz in reintroducing the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act to allow doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in states that have established medical marijuana programs. There are currently 36 states in the U.S., including the Commonwealth of Virginia, that have established medical marijuana programs. Under current law, medical marijuana programs allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to help patients manage pain—except for at the VA. This bill would change that by expanding program eligibility to VA hospitals. The bill would also create a temporary, five-year safe harbor protection for veterans who use medical marijuana, and would also direct the VA to research how medical marijuana could help veterans better manage chronic pain and reduce opioid abuse. 

“This bill helps ensure that veterans have access to the same medical options as other Americans, removing barriers to care for our heroes, “Kaine said. “This would also be an opportunity to further explore the use of medical marijuana as a viable tool to help veterans manage pain and potentially reduce opioid abuse.”  

This legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV). Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dave Joyce (R-OH).

The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act is supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), VoteVets, Minority Veterans of America, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Veterans Cannabis Project, Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), NORML, National Cannabis Roundtable, U.S. Pain Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Veteran’s Initiative 22, Arizona Dispensary Association, California Cannabis Industry Association, and Hawai‘i Cannabis Industry Association.