U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) successfully included an amendment in the FY 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that protects veterans’ ability to discuss with VA physicians the use of medical marijuana in states where it is legal.
The amendment would allow for parity between VA and non-VA facilities in states like Montana and Oregon that have medical marijuana programs. It does not change current laws preventing the possession or dispensing of marijuana on VA property, but simply allows veterans to discuss all options that are legally available in their state with their VA doctor.
“When a veteran walks into a VA facility and speaks with their doctor they should be able to discuss all options available to them,” Daines stated.
“Many in the Capitol say that we should stand up for veterans because they have stood up for us. This amendment provided a real opportunity to stand up for veterans by allowing them to discuss the full range of legal treatment options with their VA providers,” said Merkley. “An overwhelming bipartisan majority of Senators on the committee took that opportunity, so I hope this amendment isn’t stripped out in back room negotiations as it has been in the past.”
Daines and Merkley previously secured this amendment during the mark up of the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
On June 28, 2016, Daines, Merkley and nine members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives urged Congressional leadership to include a provision in the final funding bill sent to the president that protects veterans’ ability to discuss the use of medical marijuana with VA physicians in states where it is legal. Although, the provision passed both chambers of Congress, the provision was removed in the conferenced appropriations for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.