Washington’s Next Priority: Weed for Warriors
It was during the Vietnam War that soldiers first embraced cannabis on a major scale. According to a 1971 report by the Department of Defense, 51% of the armed forces smoked marijuana. Hence the familiar images in documentaries, news footage, and Hollywood movies of soldiers in the jungle, getting high on pot.
Back then, marijuana was universally illegal and considered a dangerous act of counter-culture rebellion. These days, many lawmakers in Washington want to expedite the provision of weed to our nation’s wounded warriors, for the sake of their mental and physical health.
Now that the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package has passed Congress and heads for President Biden’s signature, lawmakers are turning their attention to other legislation that’s been waiting in the wings. Efforts to make marijuana more accessible to veterans are near the top of the list.
Pending in the House and Senate is the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, a bill that would make it legal under federal law for military veterans to use, possess, or transport medical marijuana in state-legal systems.
The Act also would allow Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations to their patients. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is the sponsor in the House; Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) is the sponsor in the Senate.
Specifically, the bill authorizes:
(1) a veteran to use, possess, or transport medical marijuana in accordance with applicable state or Native American tribal law;
(2) a VA physician to discuss with a veteran the use of medical marijuana as a treatment if the physician is in a state or on tribal land that authorizes such treatment; or
(3) a VA physician to recommend, complete forms for, or register veterans for participation in a medical marijuana treatment program in accordance with applicable state or tribal law.
The bill requires the VA to report on the effects of medical marijuana on veterans in pain; and the relationship between state-approved medical marijuana treatment programs, program access, and opioid abuse reduction.
On March 8, U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) tweeted about “the benefits our vets have seen from medical marijuana dealing with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and chronic pain.” (see below)
Veterans suffering physical or emotional distress are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications. In addition to treating body wounds, marijuana is effective in treating depression. Veterans represent 7% of the American population, yet account for 20% of the national suicide rate.
However, because marijuana is still banned on the federal level, VA doctors are currently prohibited from providing the necessary paperwork to complete a recommendation for medical marijuana. The VA will not pay for medical marijuana prescriptions from any source. Consequently, military veterans are compelled to seek the assistance of private, out-of-network physicians.
An alternative to opioids…
America’s veterans overwhelmingly support the idea behind the bill. According to a recent poll by the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans service organization, more than 92% of veterans support expanding research into medical marijuana; 83% believe the federal government should legalize medical marijuana nationwide; and over 80% favor allowing federal doctors to recommend cannabis to veterans.
Marijuana is showing in studies that it can save lives that are lost because of addiction to harmful drugs. A recent study by the British Medical Association (BMA) found that U.S. counties with more marijuana dispensaries have fewer opioid-related deaths, “particularly deaths associated with synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.”
The BMA report stated: “Cannabis is generally thought to be a less addictive substance than opioids. Cannabis can potentially be used medically for pain management and has considerable public support.”
Meanwhile, a House-passed bill to legalize pot on the federal level stands an excellent chance of passage this year in the Democratic-controlled Senate. President Biden would likely sign the bill, known as the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2020.
Editor’s Note: These efforts in Congress to lift restrictions on marijuana underscore the social mainstreaming of pot. Looking for ways to profit on this mega-trend? A group of ordinary individual investors are earning up to $55,362 a year from one company’s marijuana profit-sharing “program.”
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John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily. He also writes the twice-weekly e-letter Marijuana Investing Daily. To subscribe to John’s video channel, follow this link. Send your questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.