veterans administration

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U.S.: Veterans Group Weed For Warriors Praises House Passage of VA Marijuana Measure

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Decorated disabled Iraq War veteran Brandon Wyatt on Thursday applauded Congress for passing a measure today that will help veterans in states where medical marijuana is legal get the medicine they need to fight their battle with post traumatic stress disorder and other ailments.

“This is a significant step forward in our cause,” said Wyatt, a lawyer and activist, who staged a groundbreaking free cannabis giveaway last month outside the Veterans Administration clinic in Washington, D.C., for patients suffering from PTSD. “We appreciate the support and efforts of all involved.

"Nevertheless, the job is not finished, because this legislation does not allow all veterans to be provided with the quality healthcare they need in order to be free of the fear of having to self-medicate," Wyatt said. "Easier access doesn’t equate to equal access.”

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, (D-Oregon), only applies to states where cannabis is legal; it doesn't allow for the distribution or use of cannabis at VA clinics or any federal facilities; and it doesn't allow for the VA to cover the costs.

California: Militarized Cops Seize Assets of Legal Medical Marijuana Company

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Police High Five Each Other as Cannabis Industry Leader’s Assets Frozen, $324,000 in Cash Taken, Family Bank Accounts Frozen

Med-West CEO Speaks Out for First Time Since Raid

“It was like a scene from a bad movie.”

That’s what James Slatic, the CEO of Med-West Distribution, LLC and a leader in the national effort to legalize medical cannabis products, remembers thinking when he first viewed the footage from his security cameras.

For the first time, Slatic is speaking out about the raid mounted by local law enforcement against his company, a legal medical cannabis company, on January 28, at 7:30 a.m.

His comments, contained in a video on the Indiegogo account he is using to raise money for his legal defense, raise serious issues about the role of local law enforcement in California, a state where a new law just went into effect regulating the medical cannabis industry and where a statewide ballot initiative will be held this November to legalize the adult use of recreational cannabis.

In the video, Slatic offers disturbing details from the raid: “Our two employees were put on the floor with guns to their heads. All of our assets were frozen, all of our bank accounts, all of my wife’s accounts, all of our daughters’ accounts have been frozen.”

U.S.: Senate Committee Prevents DEA From Undermining Medical Marijuana Laws

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Vote Comes Just a Week After Committee Voted to Allow Veterans Administration Doctors to Recommend Marijuana to Veterans

Nationwide Bipartisan Momentum for Drug Policy Reform Grows Stronger

In yet another huge victory for marijuana reform, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted by 21 to 8 to approve an amendment offered by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Maryland) to protect state medical marijuana laws from federal interference by the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Marijuana reforms are repeatedly winning votes in Congress,” said Bill Piper, senior director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Letting states set their own marijuana policies is now a mainstream, bipartisan issue.”

After decades of inactivity on marijuana reform, Congress has moved at lightning pace to advance marijuana reform in recent years.

Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend marijuana. The Committee approved similar amendments last year as well as an amendment to allow state-legalized marijuana businesses to access banks and other financial services.

The Mikulski Amendment is expected to pass the full Senate as well as the House. Similar amendments were passed by Congress last year and the year before.

U.S.: Congressman Blumenauer Says Medical Marijuana Could Solve Opioid Epidemic

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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) on the House floor Wednesday, addressed the serious opioid abuse epidemic across America, highlighting medical marijuana as an alternative to highly addictive prescription opioids in treating chronic pain.

In his remarks, Congressman Blumenauer called for further reforms to our medical marijuana laws, including making sure our Veterans – who are frequently prescribed opioids – are able to discuss medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option with their Veterans Administration providers in states where it is legal.

Rep. Blumenauer on Feb. 3 reintroduced H.R. 667, the Veterans Equal Access Act, to address this and will once again offer it as an amendment during consideration of the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill this year.

“Last night, ‘Frontline’ on PBS had a compelling documentary on the opioid and heroin epidemic," Rep. Blumenauer said. "We’re now seeing politicians diving in – governors across the country sounding the alarm. It’s being featured by presidential candidates of both parties.

California: Veterans Don't Want Marijuana Legalization To Affect Medical Access

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Military veterans that reside in the state of California have come together to express concerns over the implications to them from the passage of Sean Parker's Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AB 266) legislation. Under AB 266, almost all of the donations of medicine (medical cannabis) the veterans receive would be outlawed with the risk of jail to all involved.

"Across the state of California, from growers to manufacturers, all would become unable to donate medicine," according to the Weed For Warrirors Project (WFWP). "This legislation would make it nearly impossible to provide medicine to those members of society who require it most."

"Veterans have already fought for our freedoms; most will never live a normal life again because of it," according to the Weed For Warriors Project. "They come home only to be drugged up beyond comprehension by the VA who has been working alongside big pharmacy for their medical programs. These veterans do not want to cause problems; they just want their right to choose what they medicate with without the threat of jail or losing their benefits.

"The vets of California, as well as from around the country, understand the legislation for regulation of medical cannabis is necessary, and they seek to help advance this effort," the WFWP announced. "However, AB 266, as it stands, if passed, would place the veteran population in California at unnecessary risk. They are asking that Sean Parker and his team amend this issue before it becomes law and destroys more lives than the war they already fought."

U.S.: Members of Congress Tell VA To Allow Veterans Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A broad group of legislators from both parties on Wednesday sent a letter to the Veterans’ Administration (VA) demanding a change in policy to allow veterans to access medical marijuana. Currently, veterans are prevented from having full conversations about medical marijuana with VA doctors, and the same VA physicians are prohibited from recommending medical marijuana, even in states where medical marijuana is legal.

“Vets have served their country, and the least we can do is give them the care they require,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It is shameful that the VA prevents veterans from accessing a treatment for pain relief and PTSD.”

“Current VA policy is doing a disservice to veterans by preventing their doctors from exploring all possible treatment options," said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "We trust VA physicians to prescribe painkillers and other prescription drugs that are far more addictive and infinitely more lethal. Why can’t we trust them to recommend medical marijuana to the patients who they believe could benefit from it?

U.S.: Dropleaf and Julian Marley's JUJU Royal Will Contribute 1% Of Annual Sales To Charity

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Dropleaf, the brand management firm that has obtained the exclusive rights to the Julian Marley JUJU Royal brand, has announced it will begin making charitable contributions to the Weed for Warriors Project on an annual basis beginning in 2016.

Dropleaf said it will donate 1 percent of annual sales to a limited number of select charities and the Weed for Warriors Project is the first charity chosen to be a recipient. The charitable donation program will be based on Dropleaf’s annual sales made in 2016, according to Jeffrey Britz of Dropleaf. Other charities will be selected in 2016, he added.

The Weed for Warriors Project benefits military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) The Project seeks to raise public awareness about the need for the U.S. Veterans Affairs Administration (VA) to change its policies regarding the use of medical cannabis to treat PTSD symptoms. The VA’s current policy is to treat PTSD with prescription psychiatric drugs that are addictive and have debilitating side effects. More information about the Weed for Warriors Project is available at their website, http://wfwproject.org.

U.S.: Senate Approves Funding Bill That Allows Veterans Access To Medical Marijuana

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Amendment Would Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana to Their Patients in States Where It’s Legal

The Senate on Tuesday passed the FY2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Bill, which includes language to allow Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. The language was included as an amendment in the Senate Appropriations committee in May.

“Veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “It makes no sense that a veteran can’t use medical marijuana if it helps them and it is legal in their state.”

The Veterans Equal Access Amendment was sponsored by Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. It passed the Committee 18-12 in a bipartisan vote. The funding bill will now be negotiated with the House’s version as part of an omnibus spending bill.

"On this eve of Veterans/Armistice Day where we remember those who served in the military and the treaty agreement to reach peace concluding WWI, we see this victory as a step toward a peace treaty with the government we volunteered to defend with our lives and as a step toward restoring our first amendment rights and dignity as citizens of the United States," said TJ Thompson, a disabled Navy veteran.

Kansas: Vietnam Veteran, 65, Denied Pain Pills After Testing Postive For Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A nationwide argument between the Veterans Administration and groups which protect the rights of veterans emerged in Kansas on Tuesday.

The issue -- whether veterans should be denied prescription medications because they use marijuana for physical or emotional pain, even in states which allow marijuana use -- arose when a Vietnam veteran was denied his pain pills because he tested positive for pot, reports Tyler Carter at KSNT.

"I went in to get a refill on my pain medication and they refused to let me have it, because I have marijuana in my blood," said disabled Vietnam veteran Gary Dixon, 65. While in Vietnam, Dixon was exposed to Agent Orange.

"I hurt, and I hurt from something I got fighting for my country," Dixon said.

He now has Stage 4 lung cancer, apparently doesn't have much time left to live, and readily admits to smoking marijuana.

Dixon and his wife Debbie on Tuesday drove to Topeka from Fort Scott like they customarily do for Dixon's stroke group therapy and to pick up his pain medicine. But this time, he had to take a urine test and sign an opiate consent form.

"I said, if she was wanting to see if I still smoke marijuana, I said I do," said Dixon, who added he'd been using cannabis since 1972.

He takes 10 to 15 presription pills per day, but Tuesday afternoon he walked out of the VA hospital empty handed.

U.S.: Senate Committee Allows Marijuana Legalization To Move Forward In Nation's Capital

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A key Senate committee on Thursday passed a bill allowing the nation’s capital to establish regulated marijuana stores and let banks provide financial services to state-legalized marijuana dispensaries.

These are just two of several marijuana reforms advancing in Congress, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). Meanwhile, sentencing reform is gaining steam, and the U.S. is shifting towards treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue.

“The stage has been set to end the federal government’s failed war on marijuana,” said Michael Collins, policy manager at DPA’s Office of National Affairs. “A bipartisan consensus has emerged in favor of reform.”

Last November nearly 72 percent of D.C. voters approved a ballot measure making it legal to possess and grow marijuana for personal use. The campaign to pass Initiative 71 was driven by public demands to end racially-biased enforcement of marijuana laws and was seen as the first step at taking marijuana out of the illicit market.

A broad base of community support from multiple civil rights organizations, faith leaders and community advocacy groups supported Initiative 71, viewing it as an opportunity to restore the communities most harmed by the war on drugs.

U.S.: House Narrowly Defeats Increasing Veterans' Access To Medical Marijuana

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted 213-210 to defeat an amendment to increase military veterans' access to medical marijuana.

The appropriations amendment, offered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors, would have prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from spending money to enforce a prohibition on V.A. doctors filling out medical marijuana recommendation forms in states where the drug is legal.

"While there is no single approach to aiding our nation's veterans, medical marijuana is proven to help in treating post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries frequently suffered by veterans," Blumenauer said. "States are listening to their residents on the benefits of medical marijuana, including veterans, and are changing their laws.

"It is unacceptable for our wounded warriors to be forced out of the VA system to simply seek a recommendation on whether or not medical marijuana is a good treatment option," Congressman Blumenauer said.

But weed-phobic throwbacks to the bad old days of the 20th Century stood in the way. "So, why in the world we we give a drug that is addictive, that is prohibited as a Schedule I, that is not accepted for any medical disease or disorder, and enhances psychosis and schizophrenia?" asked Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana), who, excuse my saying so, is clearly a moron.

U.S.: House Voting On Amendment Allowing VA Doctors To Discuss Medical Marijuana

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36 States Allow Use of Some Form of Marijuana for Medical Reasons, but VA Doctors Prohibited from Recommending Medical Marijuana to Patients

Amendment Comes as Support for Medical Marijuana Increases in Congress

As early as this Wednesday afternoon the U.S. House could vote on an amendment that would allow doctors that work for the Veterans Administration to discuss medical marijuana and recommend its use in states where it is legal.

The bipartisan amendment is being offered by Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Heck (R-NV), Farr (D-CA), Rohrabacher (R-CA), Reed (R-NY), Titus (D-NV), Gabbard (D-HI), Lee (D-CA) and Gallego (D-AZ).

“Veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor and use it if it’s medically necessary,” said Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “They have served this country valiantly, so the least we can do is allow them to have full and open discussions with their doctors.”

A similar amendment narrowly failed on the House floor last year, 195 to 222. The House subsequently went on to vote five times in favor of letting states set their own marijuana policies.

One of the amendments, prohibiting the Justice Department from spending any money in Fiscal Year 2015 undermining state medical marijuana laws, made it into the final spending bill signed into law by President Obama. Advocates of the veterans amendment believe it has a very good chance of passing this year.

U.S.: Blumenauer To Offer Amendment To Remove Restrictions Preventing VA From Recommending Marijuana

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When the U.S. House of Representatives this week is expected to consider the FY 2016 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon plans to offer an amendment to make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical marijuana.

Currently, the Veterans Administration (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a Veteran’s participation in a state medical marijuana program. Congressman Blumenauer’s amendment ensures that no funds made available to the VA can be used to implement this prohibition, which would, in effect, strike it down.

The amendment is currently co-sponsored by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

“While there is no single approach to aiding our nation’s veterans, medical marijuana is proven to help in treating post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries frequently suffered by veterans,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “States are listening to their residents on the benefits of medical marijuana, including veterans, and are changing their laws.

U.S.: House Bill Introduced To Overturn Ban On VA Physicians Recommending Medical Marijuana

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"Veterans Equal Access Act" would allow VA physicians to discuss medical marijuana with their patients without federal censure

U.S. House Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with 10 bipartisan Congressional cosponsors on Thursday introduced the "Veterans Equal Access Act" (VEAA), marking a concerted federal effort to allow our country's veterans to become medical marijuana patients in states where it's legal. The VEAA would simply allow Veterans Affairs (VA) physicians to discuss and recommend medical marijuana to their patients, a right enjoyed by physicians outside of the VA system.

"Post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury are just as damaging and harmful as any injuries that are visible from the outside," said Blumenauer, the bill's author. "Sometimes even more so because of the devastating effect they can have on a veteran's family.

"We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows," Blumenauer said. "It's shameful."

Colorado: Veterans Suffering From PTSD Absurdly Denied Legal Marjuana

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Veterans With PTSD Who Use Legal Marijuana in Colorado Can Lose VA Medical Care and Benefits

Legislation to Add PTSD As Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana Rejected By Colorado Legislature

A bill on Monday failed to pass the Colorado House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee that would have added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of ‘debilitating medical conditions’ that qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation.

This timely bill (HB14-1364) would have addressed a major gap in access to medical marijuana in Colorado for veterans and all those suffering from PTSD. The bill sought to ensure that veterans won’t lose their VA benefits for following their physician’s recommendation to use medical marijuana.

On average a veteran commits suicide every hour in the United States -– and medical marijuana has been proven to reduce suicide. But Colorado veterans who use marijuana to manage their symptoms of PTSD risk losing their Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. VA policy permits veterans in compliance with their state medical marijuana law to continue to receive all their benefits and remain eligible for care in the VA medical system.

Massachusetts: Doctors Advised Not To Authorize Patients For Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts has a new medical marijuana law, approved by a vast majority of voters last November. But doctors at community health centers have been advised not to authorize any more of their more than 638,000 patients for medical marijuana, because the centers are afraid they'll lose their federal funding.

The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers has advised its 36 federally funded facilities to stop issuing patient marijuana authorizations under state law because cannabis use remains illegal for any purpose under federal law, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe.

Health center physicians who authorize patients for medical marijuana could be committing a "potential violation of federal law and could result in legal and financial exposure for community health centers," according to a spineless statement from the League.

Voters approved a ballot initiative last November, making Massachusetts one of 20 medical marijuana states (plus the District of Columbia). Federally funded community health centers in other states have also advised doctors against authorizing patients to use marijuana.

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