- About About
Medical Patient Resources Cannabis Care Certification Patient's Guide to Medical Cannabis Patient's Guide to CBD Talking to your doctor Become a Legal Medical Marijuana Patient The Medical Cannabis Patient’s Guide for U.S. Travel Guide to Using Medical Cannabis Cannabis Tincture, Salve, Butter and Oil Recipes Arthritis and Medical Cannabis Cancer and Medical Cannabis Chronic Pain and Medical Cannabis Gastrointestinal Disorders and Medical Cannabis HIV/AIDS and Medical Cannabis Movement Disorders and Medical Cannabis Multiple Sclerosis and Medical Cannabis Aging and Medical Cannabis Veterans and Medical Cannabis Medical Marijuana Conditions in Your Area Growing Cannabis Tracking Treatment & Gathering Data with Releaf App Medical Professional Resources Medical Cannabis Continuing Medical Education (CME) Cannabis Safety Medical Cannabis Research
- Legal Legal
Advocacy ASA Chapters Start an ASA Chapter Take Action Congress Must Act for Cannabis Patients! Pass Medical Cannabis Legislation NOW! Campaigns No Patient Left Behind End Pain, Not Lives Vote Medical Marijuana Medical Cannabis Advocate's Training Center Resources for Tabling and Lobby Days Strategic Planning Civics 101 Strategic Messaging Citizen Lobbying Participating in Implementation Movement Building Organizing a Demonstration Organizing Turnout for Civic Meetings Public Speaking Media 101 Patient's History of Medical Cannabis
- News News
Policy Policy Positions Model Federal Legislation Download Ending The Federal Conflict Public Comments by ASA Industry Standards Guide to Regulating Industry Standards Reports 2021 State of the States Medical Cannabis Access for Pain Treatment Cannabis and Cannabis Resin- Critical Review Preparation Document Recognizing Science using the Data Quality Act Data Quality Act Briefs Fact Sheet on ASA's Data Quality Act Petition to HHS ASA Data Quality Act petition to HHS Information on Lawyers and Named Patients in the Data Quality Act Lawsuit
- Join Join
Washington DC - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the Veterans Equal Access Amendment (VEAA) to the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilConVA) Appropriations bill, which sets the budget for the Veterans Administration (VA). The amendment, which creates a path to medical cannabis therapy for veterans receiving their healthcare through the VA, was approved by a vote of 233-189 with 57 Republicans and 176 Democrats. The amendment was sponsored again by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) with bipartisan co-sponsorship from Representatives Farr (D-CA), Gallego (D-AZ), Heck (R-NV), Lee (D-CA), Polis (D-CO), Reed (R-NY), Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Titus (D-CA).
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Directive 2011-004, explicitly forbids VA physicians from filling out recommendation forms for state medical marijuana programs or discussing medical marijuana benefits with the veterans in their care. This directive was set to expire on January 31, 2016; however, the policy remains in effect, leaving it up to Congress to take action to fix the problem. Under this policy, veterans who are dependent on the VA for health care are denied equal access to state medical marijuana programs or honest conversations with their doctor. The VEAA would forbid the VA from using any funds to punish physicians who write recommendations or discuss benefits of medical marijuana therapy with their patients. If signed by the President, it will have to be renewed again next year. The CARERS Act, currently awaiting a hearing in both houses, would make this provision permanent.
Representative Blumenauer described the current problems veterans seeking medical cannabis access face by saying, “They have to go ahead and hire a physician out of their own pocket, not dealing with the medical professional of their choice, their VA doctor, who knows them the best.” This problem hurts low-income veterans the most, as they are in the worst position to pay for out of pocket medical expenses.
Opposition to the amendment seemed tepid at best. “I rise somewhat reluctantly.” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), who went on to say, "I understand that the country is evolving on this issue as many states, including my own, have moved forward on medical marijuana," in speaking against the vote.
Key to the success of the amendment were veterans who engaged with their Members of Congress to discuss how medical cannabis has benefited their lives. “I can tell you for certain, with every ounce of my integrity, that without the benefits of medical cannabis, I would not be standing here before you all today, “ states former US Army Captain Eric Gudz. ASA and Capt. Gutz met with House offices as part of the lobbying effort to pass the amendment.
“We are pleased that both the House and Senate have made it clear that the Veterans Administration should not punish doctors for recommending medical cannabis to their veteran patients,” said Michael Liszewski, ASA Government Affairs Director. “We anticipate this amendment will reach the President, and once signed, it will give VA physicians another tool in their toolbox to treat the healthcare needs of America’s veterans.”