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Bill Introduced in Congress Tuesday Would Allow Veterans Affairs Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana

Measure co-sponsored by five Republicans and three Democrats would help veterans suffering from severe injuries, PTSD, and other chronic conditions 

* Statement below from Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project *

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill introduced in the House of Representatives Tuesday would allow physicians employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recommend marijuana as a medical treatment to veterans suffering from serious injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other chronic conditions. Current VA policy prohibits doctors from completing documentation patients must receive in order to obtain medical marijuana under state laws.

The Veterans Equal Access Act, introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), is co-sponsored by three Democrats and five Republicans: Sam Farr (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Dina Titus (D-NV), Justin Amash (R-MI), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Walter Jones (R-NC), Tom Reed (R-NY), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

Approximately 20% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or PTSD, a notoriously difficult condition to treat. A study published this month in the Annals of Epidemiology found that the suicide rate among those veterans is 50% higher than the national average. A study published last year in theAmerican Journal of Public Health found that in states that passed medical marijuana laws there was a subsequent statistically significant reduction in suicide rates.

Statement from Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“The men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have made tremendous sacrifices for our country. They deserve every option available to treat their wounds, both visible and hidden. If VA doctors are confident that medical marijuana would improve their patients’ quality of life, they should be able to recommend it to them in states where it’s legal.

“Republicans are really stepping up on this issue, as evidenced by the list of co-sponsors. Medical marijuana is becoming a bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill, which makes sense given the level of public support behind it. This isn’t about being liberal or conservative — it’s about being sensible and compassionate.”

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