The latest effort to allow military veterans legal access to cannabis arrives in the form of three bills introduced in Congress in May 2019.
Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida submitted the bipartisan bills on May 12, 2019, that would allow the following:
1) Enable veterans to discuss using cannabis with their doctors without fear of repercussions such as losing their benefits;
2) Direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct a national survey of all veterans and VA healthcare providers to learn more about how many veterans are using cannabis and why, and;
3) Train VA doctors and staff to better understand cannabis use among veterans.
“Let's not kid ourselves: people are using marijuana – including our veterans,” Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer who served four tours in Iraq and is currently a contender in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, told the Boston Globe. “Rather than ignoring this reality, Congress should let doctors talk with their patients about it, and we should learn more about cannabis so it can be safely used and properly regulated.”
Democratic Reps. Darren Soto and Charlie Crist of Florida, along with Hank Johnson of Georgia, joined Moulton and Gaetz as original co-sponsors of the three bills.
Veterans groups that support medicinal cannabis have seen many congressional bills and resolutionscome and go without ever solving their pressing medical issues that include chronic pain, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury. These and other ailments sometimes add to veterans' alarming suicide rate: 22 per day, according to VA data.