U.S. Senate Approves Bill to Help Vets who Need Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is legal in California as well as a little less than half of the states in the country, depending on how one interprets the overall effects of their various laws and ordinances, some of which are rather ambiguous.

laweducation.jpgThere is no question among a majority of medical experts cannabis can have a very beneficial effect on many patients who are suffering from a wide variety of physical ailments and mental health issues.

There are patients from all walks of life with vastly different health problems who can be good candidates for medical marijuana, and a statistically significant portion of these prospective medical cannabis patients are military veterans. In many cases, it was the physical and psychological trauma suffered on the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam, which caused their respective needs for medical cannabis as a treatment option.

However, despite their military service being a major contributing factor to their various medical conditions, the fact they rely upon the Veteran’s Administration (VA) and VA hospitals for their medical needs was also the reason they were not able to use medical cannabis to threat their physical and mental health issues.

Fortunately, it looks like this may finally change for the better, thanks to a recent piece of legislation passed by Congress. According to The New York Times, until the new legislation was created, VA physicians were not allowed to write recommendation letters or prescriptions for medical marijuana, because any use of marijuana is a violation of federal drug laws. These doctors could not only lose their jobs, but could face a review by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for violating federal drug policy.

As our Los Angeles medical marijuana attorneys can explain, in order to get medical marijuana in California, a patient or his or her caregiver must go to a legal medical cannabis dispensary and show a valid California resident ID card and a letter of recommendation from a doctor saying it is appropriate for this patient to use medical marijuana. Without a letter of recommendation, it would be illegal for a clinic to dispense any cannabis products to an individual. Military veterans, who went to the VA for medical care, could not ask their doctors for such a letter because of the old law.

However, after an 18-12 vote in favor of allowing VA doctors to write these letters and prescriptions, VA doctors will now be allowed to do so without fear of repercussions from their employer or the DEA if the entire Senate approves the bill.

This recent proposed law change is actually a small part of a larger piece of legislation know as the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States, or CARERS. CARERS is sponsored by Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kristen Gillibrand of New York, as well as Rand Paul from the state of Kentucky. Having both democratic and republican support does make this legislation more likely to pass the House and Senate, though that conclusion is far from certain, as there are still many politicians who find it politically expedient to oppose any attempt to move closer to marijuana legalization of any kind, including the use of medical marijuana by wounded military veterans.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
A Victory for Medical Marijuana, May 22, 2015, New York Times

More Blog Entries:
Four Competing California Marijuana Legalization Proposals, April 3, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog