By Kevin Knodell for the Honolulu Civil Beat

The bill has the backing of several veteran and drug policy organizations, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, VoteVets, Minority Veterans of America, U.S. Pain Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Veteran’s Initiative 22.

“In 36 states, doctors and their patients have the option to use medical marijuana to manage pain — unless those doctors work for the VA and their patients are veterans,” the Hawaii Democrat said in a press release.

Hawaii is one of those states; in 2000 it became the first to legalize medical marijuana.

“This bill protects veteran patients in these states and gives their VA doctors the option to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans, and it also promises to shed light on how medical marijuana can help with the nation’s opioid epidemic,” said Schatz.

Schatz first introduced the bill in 2019. It was co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine and Jacky Rosen, but it ultimately languished in the Senate Judiciary Committee without a hearing.

The reintroduced bill has gained co-sponsorship from Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. A companion bill in the House of Representatives was introduced by California Democrat Barbara Lee and Ohio Republican Dave Joyce.

The bill has the backing of several veteran and drug policy organizations, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, VoteVets, Minority Veterans of America, U.S. Pain Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Veteran’s Initiative 22.