On April 15th, 2021, House Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), introduced the Veterans Medical Marjuana Safe Harbor Act (HR 2588) to Congress.
In addition to highlighting the need to deal with the chronic pain suffered by most Veterans, the bill seeks to accomplish three tasks. The bill would authorize:
- Veterans to use, possess, or transport medical marijuana in accordance with applicable state or Native American tribal law.
- A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) physician to discuss the use of medical marijuana with a Veteran. The discussion would cover medical marijuana as a treatment if the physician is in a state or on tribal lands that allow for those treatments.
- A VA physician to recommend, complete forms for, or register veterans into a medical marijuana treatment program in accordance with all state and tribal laws.
This is a big deal because, according to the federal government, marijuana is still considered an illegal substance. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), “cannibis remains classified as a Schedule I substance under the [federal] Controlled Substances Act.”
If this bill becomes a law, it could set a precedent for further advances of marijuana as a viable medical treatment for certain conditions.
As of October 19th, 2021, the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act was referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. The subcommittee has released no further updates since that time.
For information covering State Medical Cannabis Laws, the NCSL keeps a close eye on these legal developments.
Free Medical Marijuana Cards For Veterans?
Since Medical Marijuana could be helpful to veterans with PTSD and chronic pain, two Florida legislators are pushing bills to give free medical cards to military veterans. With the high veteran suicide rate and so many veterans in need of pain management and relief, this could be a step in the right direction.
Florida State Senators Introduce Measures
State Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa and Iraq War Veteran, State Rep. Adam Hattersley, D- Riverview, introduced companion measures to waive the $75 state registration fee for veterans in Florida. The bills will be considered in the 2020 session.
If these bills go through, there will be easier access to cannabis for veterans. It could also set a precedent for the nation, and push for change on federal laws. As of today, 33 states, and Washington DC have legalized medical marijuana and 11 states and Washington DC have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.
Cost of Medical Marijuana Cards In Other States
As far as the cost of medical marijuana cards, Illinois has a discount for veterans, $50 which is half the cost of the normal price. Oregon charges $200 and offers the cards to veterans for $20. Maryland doesn’t have any fees for anyone. If these bills go through, Florida would be the first state to charge a fee for a card and offer that card for free to veterans.
About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.