Thursday, June 22, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley successfully passed an amendment to the FY 2024 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act to protect veterans’ ability to discuss with VA physicians the use of medical cannabis in states where it is legal.
“Veterans face too many roadblocks in getting the care they need and deserve. The VA system is tasked with providing the best quality health options in the world, and that means patients need to be able to discuss the full range of legal treatment options with their VA providers,” said Merkley. “Outdated laws should never censor veterans’ doctor-patient relationships. Thirty-seven states now have legal cannabis programs, and it is unacceptable to treat veterans as second-class citizens and force them to find a different doctor to simply ask questions and seek treatment if they choose to access state legal medical cannabis programs.”
The amendment would allow for parity between VA and non-VA facilities in states like 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. Thirty-seven states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have legal medical cannabis programs.
The amendment was adopted in committee by voice vote, indicating widespread support across the committee.