The U.S. House of Representatives approved on Thursday an amendment that would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients in states where using medicinal cannabis is legal—like Arizona.
The amendment was attached to a military appropriations bill. The Senate approved a similar amendment in a spending bill that would go into effect in 2017, according to The Huffington Post.
The Veterans Equal Access Amendment, introduced by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, strikes down a Department of Veterans Affairs prohibition on VA doctors recommending medical marijuana as treatment for veterans who have chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions, the HuffPost
Under current regulations, veterans had to seek these recommendations outside of the VA system and pay out of pocket for the related expenses.
The VA has an opiate prescription epidemic, which has led to a number of overdoses among veterans, according to a 2013 report by The Center for Investigative Reporting
Jeffrey Waggoner’s end and easy access to the narcotics that killed him have become tragically common, The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the agency charged with helping veterans recover from war instead masks their pain with potent drugs, feeding addictions and contributing to a fatal overdose rate among VA patients that is nearly double the national average.
Prescriptions for four opiates – hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine – have surged by 270 percent in the past 12 years, according to data CIR obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. CIR’s analysis for the first time exposes the full scope of that increase, which far outpaced the growth in VA patients and varied dramatically across the nation.
Many veterans have turned to weed as an alternative to painkillers and antidepressants. But, as the HuffPost
writes, the Drug Enforcement Agency still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the most dangerous category, saying that there is no accepted medical use.
In April, the DEA announced that it may reschedule weed
some time this year. The agency recently approved former UA researcher Sue Sisley's study
on marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.
Medical weed is legal in a total of 24 states and the District of Columbia.