The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure 18-12 Thursday that would allow Veterans Affairs physicians to recommend medical marijuana to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, serious injuries, and other debilitating conditions.
The amendment, offered by Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the Senate version of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, would rescind a portion of a 2009 directive prohibiting VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana, even in states that have made it legal.
The amendment must now be reconciled with the House version of the bill. The House narrowly defeated a similar amendment 210-213 on April 30. A similar measure was defeated 195-222 in 2014.
According to MPP’s Dan Riffle:
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers came together and passed broadly supported marijuana policy reform. This is exactly how most Americans want Congress to handle this issue. Hopefully we are reaching a point at which it is becoming the norm, rather than the exception. The pace at which support appears to be growing in the Senate is particularly encouraging.
Doctors should never be prohibited from helping their patients obtain the best possible medical treatment. Many veterans are finding that medical marijuana is the most effective treatment for PTSD and other service-related medical conditions. Finally, Congress is working to remove barriers to accessing it rather than building them.
Yesterday evening, the Texas State House of Representatives approved SB 339 with a vote of 96-34. The bill seeks to allow patients with intractable epilepsy to access cannabis oil containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC.
On a certain level, the legislature should be commended for acknowledging the medical value of marijuana, and it is an historic vote in that sense.
Unfortunately, SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it requires doctors to engage in conduct that is prohibited by federal law. SB 339 previously passed the Senate (26-5) on May 7.
SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions and the risk of losing their DEA registration to prescribe any controlled substances.
The bill also leaves behind Texas patients suffering from debilitating conditions like PTSD, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, for which medical marijuana has been found to have significant medical benefits.
But it isn’t all bad. Even if doctors are unwilling to “prescribe” marijuana, starting the implementation process will ensure a system of safe access is ready to go when the legislature meets in 2017 — at which point it can fix the flaw and expand access to patients with other serious conditions.
For the second time in a year, the Pennsylvania Senate has overwhelmingly voted to allow seriously ill patients to use and safely access medical cannabis. Gov. Tom Wolf has said he’d sign medical marijuana legislation, so only one piece of the puzzle remains: the House of Representatives.
SB 3 would allow registered patients to use medical cannabis and to safely access it from regulated dispensaries. To qualify, patients must have an approved medical condition, such as cancer, seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, wasting syndrome, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, or chronic pain. The Senate approved adding vaporization to the bill, but only for cancer, seizures, and PTSD.
The bill is more limited than we would like in some areas, but it is a dramatic improvement over the status quo.
Unfortunately, SB 280 also fails to include any regulated means for patients to access cannabis oil in Tennessee. Seriously ill patients or their families would have to travel to another state to get access to medical cannabis preparations. Not only is it illegal to transport CBD between states, it may be illegal to possession cannabis oil in states along the way. This law places patients and loved ones at risk.
The Hawaiian legislative conference committee working out the differences in medical marijuana dispensary programs proposed by the House and Senate has come to an agreement.
HB 321 will initially allow eight dispensaries (three on Oahu, two each on Big Island and Maui, and one on Kauai). Starting in 2017, the state health department will be allowed to issue more licenses as needed. Each dispensary license will allow the holder to have two cultivation sites with up to 3,000 plants each as well as two dispensing locations that must be separate from the cultivation locations.