A key U.S. Senate committee has approved a spending bill with a new amendment allowing doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to discuss and recommend medical marijuana to patients living in legal states.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the cannabis amendment from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in a voice vote on Thursday, also advancing the overall legislation, which provides funding for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilConVA) for the 2025 Fiscal Year.

“The only healthcare system in America where a doctor cannot discuss medical marijuana with patients in states where it’s legal is the veterans system,” Merkley told the panel. “We’re discriminating against our veterans. This is really unacceptable.”

The same committee similarly passed the senator’s veterans and cannabis amendment last session and in prior years.

“This committee has approved this amendment in every single markup since 2015 for the last decade, because we want to have our veterans have the same fair access to the full range of medical advice that every other individual in America already has,” Merkley said.

Watch the committee discuss the marijuana and veterans amendment, around 1:15:00 into the video below:

On the House side last month, the chamber approved a similar bipartisan amendment to their version of the MilConVA bill that would authorize VA doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations to veterans.

The measure would achieve the same policy outcome as a standalone bill that was refiled on the House side from Reps. Brian Mast (R-FL) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

The Veterans Equal Access Act has been introduced several times in recent years with bipartisan support—and moved through committee and floor approval a number of times—but has yet to be enacted.

Last year, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved another bill to direct VA to carry out studies into the therapeutic potential of marijuana for military veterans with certain conditions—marking the first time that standalone cannabis legislation ever advanced through a panel in the chamber. But Senate Republicans blocked a procedural motion to move it to the floor.

A coalition of more than 20 veterans service organizations (VSOs) sent a letter to congressional leaders in 2022 to urge the passage of a marijuana and veterans research bill before the end of the last Congress. But that did not pan out.

Bipartisan House and Senate lawmakers have also filed bills to legalize medical cannabis for military veterans.

The legislation would temporarily allow veterans to legally possess and use marijuana under federal law, as recommended by doctors in accordance with state law. Physicians with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would also be allowed for the first time to issue such recommendations.

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The post Senators Approve Bill To Let VA Doctors Recommend Medical Marijuana To Veterans In Legal States appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

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