U.S.: Veterans Group Weed For Warriors Praises House Passage of VA Marijuana Measure
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.
“It simply would allow veterans to enroll in a state medical cannabis program with no recriminations from the VA, which should not have been the situation initially,” said Wyatt, who served as a U.S. Army paratrooper. “Medical punishment is unethical, wrong and has promoted distrust, treatment refusal and death among veterans in the 'green closet' regarding cannabis therapy.
"This measure doesn't change the overarching fact that cannabis, including medical cannabis, remains illegal under federal law,” Wyatt said.
The amendment was attached to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2017, and was approved on Thursday on a 233-189 vote in the House of Representatives. The measure has already cleared a Senate oversight committee and is expected to be approved by the entire Senate in coming days.
“Veterans in non-medical cannabis states should not be subjected to medical discrimination due to the unequal application of conflicts between federal and state law," Wyatt said. "We vets have a workforce-created injury, so why are veterans forced to pay for their medication, especially when so many veterans live below the poverty line and are already disabled.”
Veterans comprise of 7 percent of the total U.S. population, but account for 20 percent of the total committed suicides, Wyatt noted.
Meanwhile, on Friday, May 20 at 5:20 p.m., Wyatt, representing the veterans organization Weed for Warriors Project, and DCMJ, the organization that spearheaded Ballot Initiative 71 legalizing cannabis in the District of Columbia, will gather along Pennsylvania Avenue NW, directly north of the White House to voice solidarity among veterans regarding the suicide epidemic and demand that veterans medical rights are equally applied and protected in all 50 states.