For the first time ever, the United States Senate voted in favor of giving vets more weed.
(To clarify, senators won’t actually be giving out herbs — although that would be pretty awesome. And we’re talking military veterans here, not pet doctors…)
Last month, the Veterans Equal Access Amendment (VEAA) was presented to the legislative Congress chamber. This bill, which was sponsored by Oregon’s Democratic rep Jeff Merkley and a Republican senator from Montana, Steve Daines, was an attempt to give veterans the same kind of access to medical cannabis that regular people already have in some 23 states. Senators passed the measure by a long margin of 18 to 12, and the Drug Policy Alliance described an upcoming House vote on the law as “certain” to pass.
Until now, vets haven’t had equal access to the medication, which can be used to treat PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, anxiety, and more. Before, it was even legal for the VA to penalize physicians financially for prescribing medical marijuana to patients who’d served in the military, many of whom aren’t financially able to afford a special “420 doctor.” These doctors couldn’t even talk about medical marijuana to their patients.
But for veterans, who deserve the best lasting care, everything’s about to change.
Assuming the House’s vote on the VEAA is what we’re hoping for, doctors at the VA will soon be able to suggest potentially less invasive treatments, like cannabis oil or edibles, for veterans’ conditions. Considering that more than 500,000 veterans take prescription painkillers, which carry a major risk of abuse and death, this is big.
When you compare it with all the other stuff doctors prescribe, marijuana starts to look like a truly safe and healthful choice. Let’s just hope that Congress can see this measure through to the other side, where we could glimpse real change.
[Photo: The Daily Chronic]