Urge Your Senator To Vote Yes On The Veterans Equal Access Amendment
April 13, 2016 | Beth Collins
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on the Veterans Equal Access Amendment as part of the full committee markup of the MilCon-VA Appropriations Bill. The amendment will be reintroduced by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) and would allow VHA physicians to make written recommendations to veteran patients in states with medical cannabis programs. Current VHA policy forbids their physicians from recommending or even discussing the benefits of medical cannabis.
The policy is set by VHA Directive 2011-004. This directive was set to expire on January 31, 2016; however, the policy remains in effect. This means that Congress must take action to fix the problem. The Veterans Equal Access Amendment would help lift this “gag order” that is currently being imposed on VHA physicians. Like the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment that protect state medical cannabis programs, this amendment would have to be renewed on an annual basis.
Last year, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to include the amendment with solid bipartisan support, as 4 Republicans joined 14 Democrats. We need to make sure that everyone who voted for the amendment last year votes does so again, as well as work to pick up additional votes in favor of the amendment. A stronger showing of bipartisan support for the amendment will help increase the chances of pass of the CARERS Act, which would permanently resolved the issue preventing veterans from having equal access to state medical cannabis programs.
If you live in a state with a member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, please take action to email your senator to vote yes on the Daines-Merkley Veterans Equal Access Amendment. You can find out if you live in a state with a senator on the committee on the alert page.