VA

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United States: Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin: "We’re Interested In Looking At Medical Marijuana For Vets"

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"If there is compelling evidence that this is helpful, I hope that people take a look at that and come up with the right decision." Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday he's open to expanding the use of medical cannabis to help service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but cited the VA is limited by strict federal law.

In the United States, it is estimated that 22 veterans take their lives each day. “That should be unacceptable to all of us,” Shulkin said.

U.S.: 11 Lawmakers Urge Congress To Include Medical Marijuana In Funding Bill

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U.S. Senator Steve Daines, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and nine members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday urged Congressional leadership to include a provision in the final funding bill sent to the president that protects veterans’ ability to discuss the use of medical marijuana with VA physicians in states where it is legal.

Although the provision passed both chambers of Congress, it was removed in the conferenced appropriations for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act Conference Report failed to include Senators Daines and Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) and Earl Blumenauer’s (D-OR) amendments that would allow for parity between VA and non-VA facilities in 26 states which have medical marijuana programs. The amendment does not change current laws preventing the possession or dispensing of marijuana on VA property, but simply allows veterans to discuss all options that are legally available in their state with their VA doctor.

U.S.: House Republicans Strip Veterans Of Equal Access To Marijuana In Dead Of Night

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"This isn't right for our veterans, or the American people."
~ Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Senator Jeff Merkley

On Wednesday, in the dead of night, as House Democrats held a sit-in for gun safety, House Republicans stripped language that would make it easier for qualified veterans to access state-legal medical marijuana from legislation to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

With no transparency and little opportunity for Members to review, the House passed the legislation shortly after 3 a.m. local time Thursday. The Senate will vote on the legislation next.

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) released the following statement:

“Our language ensuring fair treatment for our veterans had broad, bipartisan support and passed both Chambers—it’s outrageous that it was removed. To add insult to injury, the legislation was released in the middle of the night, not even giving Members of the House an opportunity to review the language before voting on it. This isn’t right for our veterans, or the American people. We will keep fighting to make sure our wounded warriors have equal treatment and the ability to consult with their VA medical providers about medical marijuana as a treatment option.”

U.S.: Blumenauer Applauds Passage of Senate VA Medical Marijuana Amendment

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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon on Thursday applauded the Senate Committee on Appropriations for passing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Marijuana Amendment for the second consecutive year.

This amendment, offered by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT), would allow VA physicians to provide recommendations regarding the participation of a veteran in a state medical marijuana program.

“For the second time, the Senate has taken action to do what’s right for our veterans," Representative Blumenauer said. "I commend Senators Merkley and Daines for leading this fight in the Senate, and I look forward to pushing it across the finish line in the House.”

“All in all, today’s vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee is very encouraging as we advocate for passage of simple and commonsense measures to reform our marijuana laws,” Congressman Blumenauer said.

Colorado: Military Veteran Gives Away Free Marijuana To Fellow Vets For PTSD

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Colorado Springs cannabis club headed by a military veteran is handing out free marijuana to other veterans, hoping to give them relief from issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for chronic pain they suffer after returning home from war zones.

The Veteran Farmers Alliance over the weekend gave away more than a half-pound of weed, along with cannabis edibles, worth about $1,400, to veterans at the Dab Lounge, reports RT.com. Founder Steve Defino said other groups should be doing the same thing, and that cannabis was essential for him to deal with his PTSD, which he has battled for more than a decade.

Defino said he was prepared to spend nearly 20 times the amount he spent on Saturday at a followup event planned for Veteran's Day in November, reports Andrew Blake at The Washington Times.

“I’ve seen other organizations operate, and I’m not very happy with the way they do it,” Defino said in an interview with KXRM. “They need to be donating more and doing more to show these guys that they actually care.”

“I’ve been able to actually go through my memories, recall my memories without getting upset anymore, and I’m starting to live my life again like a normal person,” Defino said.

Maryland: Dr. Sue Sisley Lectures At Walter Reed National Hospital On PTSD, Cannabis

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Dr. Sue Sisley on Tuesday will lead a clinical lecture on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cannabis as part of the 5th Annual Pain Care Skills Training at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Research has indicated that cannabis has tremendous therapeutic potential to treat PTSD and pain-related symptoms of many medical conditions. The Pain Care Skills Training is a four-day event that includes hands-on trainings, lectures and roundtable discussions on best-practice models of treatment, and evolving solutions to meet the needs of pain care within the military, hosted by the National Capital Region Pain Initiative.

"The military has historically been a leader in adopting new medical practices far ahead of the larger medical community," said Dr. Sisley. "It's an honor to be able to help educate these highly dedicated medical professionals about medical cannabis and PTSD."

Earlier this year, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Veterans Equal Access Amendment by a margin of 18-12, which would allow Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend medical cannabis if they are in a state that has a medical cannabis program. Under current policy, veterans who receive treatment from a physician outside of the VA are able to access medical cannabis if they live in state with a medical cannabis program.

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.

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