Last week, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced a bill giving doctors at the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) the green light to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in states that allow medical marijuana.
Currently, a majority of the states–31 of them including Florida–allow some form of medical marijuana.
Nelson’s bill would also have the VA study the impact of medical marijuana.
“In addition to creating a temporary, five-year safe harbor protection for veterans who use medical marijuana, the bill would also direct the VA to conduct research on the effects of medical marijuana on veterans who are in pain and how prescribing marijuana to veterans can be used to reduce opioid abuse among veterans,” Nelson’s office noted.
Nelson explained why he had introduced the proposal.
“Federal law prohibits VA doctors from prescribing or recommending medical marijuana to veterans,” Nelson said. “This legislation will allow veterans in Florida and elsewhere the same access to legitimately prescribed medication, just as any other patient in those 31 states would have.”
The bill is supported by the American Academy of Pain Medicine, Veterans Cannabis Project, Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, Americans for Safe Access, NORML, Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, Veterans Cannabis Coalition and National Cannabis Industry Association.
The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Nelson reeled in U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hi., as a cosponsor of the bill. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. House.
First elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000, Nelson is running for a fourth term this year and will face Gov. Rick Scott in what is expected to be one of the most important Senate races in the nation come November.