Lawmakers Recognize Importance of Medical Marijuana for Veterans with New Bills


As a former member of the U.S. Navy who understands the stresses we put on our armed forces, supporting veterans’ medical needs is and will continue to be an incredibly important part of our practice at Doctor Jane.

That’s why we’re particularly excited about breaking news from lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week; according to Marijuana Moment, on Tuesday Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) filed companion bills in the House and Senate designed to make it legal under federal law for military veterans to “use, possess, or transport medical marijuana” in accordance with state policies. The legislation is called The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act. Schatz’s Senate bill is cosponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), while Lee’s House version has no initial cosponsors.

After announcing the introduction of the bill on Twitter, Rep. Lee also tweeted the following: “It’s past time to end the anti-science, anti-health cannabis prohibition laws that prevent veterans’ from accessing health care.”

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We couldn’t agree more.

The Fine Print

If enacted, in addition for making it legal for military veterans to possess, use and transport medical marijuana, the new veterans medical marijuana bill will allow Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations to their patients.

Just as importantly, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act will set aside $15 million to support the VA with required research on “the effects of medical marijuana on veterans in pain” and “the relationship between treatment programs involving medical marijuana that are approved by States, the access of veterans to such programs, and a reduction in opioid abuse among veterans.”

The new bills are nearly identical to legislation that Schatz introduced with then-Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) last year, however it does add protections for veterans covered under the medical cannabis policies of Native American tribes in addition to state regulations, making the bills more comprehensive overall.

Initial reactions to Rep. Lee’s Twitter announcement were positive.

Initial reactions to Rep. Lee’s Twitter announcement were positive.

The Implications

According to the findings section of the new bill, “States with medical cannabis laws have 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared to States without medical cannabis laws,” a point we’ve made in several previous posts (see the links at the bottom of this blog below). The bill continues, “Marijuana and its compounds show promise for treating a wide range of diseases and disorders, including pain management. Medical marijuana in States where it is legal may serve as a less harmful alternative to opioids in treating veterans.”

You can read the full text of The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Haven Act here, and find our previous posts about medical cannabis and opioids here and here.

Today’s blog post is written by Rick Liogier-Weyback, MD, founder and president of Doctor Jane and our licensed medical marijuana physician. If you are considering marijuana treatment or are wondering if medical cannabis may be right for you, please contact the team here at Doctor Jane at your earliest convenience, and be sure to ask us about our discounted pricing for veterans, first responders and medical professionals.

About Doctor Jane

Doctor Jane is South Florida’s most discreet, professional, and convenient concierge medical cannabis practice. Dr. Luis Enrique R. Liogier-Weyback and his wife, Katie Liogier-Weyback, B.S., R.N., founded Doctor Jane on the core tenets of bringing personal, convenient, professional and discreet patient care to the medical marijuana treatment process. Doctor Jane provides South Florida patients and their caregivers with a safe space where they can exercise their right to access medical cannabis therapy in an environment of their choosing, free from stigma and complications.

Visit our website to find out more or to schedule your own medical cannabis consultation.