Surviving combat is difficult enough, but for many veterans, returning to everyday life can be a minefield.
For physical pain, doctors at the Veterans Administration have historically been far from shy about handing out powerful drugs like Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycodone, which has lead to soaring rates of addiction among men and women in uniform.
“The 2017 Military Construction Appropriations Bill would shield doctors and patients from being punished for prescribing or using marijuana as part of a course of treatment, and it’s a great first step toward changing the federal government’s stance on medical marijuana.”
But for some veterans—like those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—the wounds suffered overseas aren’t to the body, but their peace of mind.
Fortunately, some PTSD suffers have found marijuana can alleviate the residual effects of combat, which often manifests itself in an inability to wind down, irritability and insomnia. But while 24 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation legalizing medical marijuana, using cannabis is still illegal under federal law. That ties the hands of V.A. doctors from prescribing it—even if they think their patients would benefit.
To insure that doesn’t continue to happen, Senator Steve Daines (R) Montana and Senator Jeff Merkley (D) Oregon have introduced the 2017 Military Construction Appropriations Bill, which would shield doctors and patients from being punished for prescribing or using marijuana as part of a course of treatment.
According to Weed Weekly, the Senate Appropriations Committee has already approved the bill, but it still needs to clear the full Senate and be approved by Congress before it would impact any patients. And while the bi-partisan nature of the bill might make supporters optimistic, a similar effort failed last year—so passage is far from guaranteed.
Passage would be a huge step forward for advocates of wide-scale marijuana reform, as it would be an admission from the federal government that marijuana has medical uses. It also would provide a shot in the arm to the campaign to remove marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug, a move that the Drug Enforcement Agency is currently considering.