According to a new bipartisan bill filed in Congress this week, military veterans in states with legal marijuana would be protected from losing their federal benefits for marijuana use.
The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) will also allow physicians at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recommend medical cannabis to their patients.
The bill would also amend VA rules that currently block the department’s doctors from filling out forms for veterans to obtain medical marijuana in accordance with state law.
VA doctors are only allowed to discuss marijuana with patients and document their usage in medical records. Those policies would also be codified under the bill, which is titled the “Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act.”
Steube tweeted, “I’m committed to ensuring that our Veterans receive the care they deserve, that’s why I’m introducing legislation to protect their benefits and ensure they can’t be denied based on legal medical marijuana usage.”
“As a veteran, I’m committed to ensuring that veterans receive the care they deserve, and I know that sometimes that care can include medical marijuana,” Steube said in a press release.
“Receiving the appropriate treatment to address your health care needs—using products that are legal in the state in which you live—should not preclude you from your Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.”
“It’s important that we respect states’ rights as outlined in the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution,” Steube said.
“While it is the current policy of the VA to not deny benefits to veterans based on participation in these state-based medical marijuana programs, this bill will ensure that no future policy or administration change could put these veterans at risk of losing their benefits when they are in compliance with state law. It also allows VA staff to help veterans fill out the forms necessary to enroll in a state-approved program instead of having to rely on a private physician. This makes things easier for veterans who are in desperate need of these medical options.”