Today, in states where it is otherwise legal, veterans in federal employment find themselves caught between using a low-risk, high-benefit treatment like cannabis and losing their job, or continuing to take addictive pharmaceuticals that have debilitating side-effects and keeping their paycheck. This flies in the face of the promise the federal government has made to every veteran to provide the best care possible. The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act is a move in the right direction to promote veteran and public health and protect citizens from government overreach.
There have been over 100,000 veteran suicides and overdoses in the last 15 years. Millions of veterans have been prescribed, both in the VA and private health, cocktails of addictive and toxic drugs without evidence or alternatives. In their own words, veterans will tell you how cannabis has provided relief and hope when nothing else worked. If it helps veterans, it can help all Americans. The time is long past due to end this 80 year injustice and dismantle prohibition.
The federal government…has an explicit requirement to provide the best care possible to those it sends into harm’s way and it has yet to fulfill the spirit of that obligation. Veterans are suffering needlessly for lack of access to cannabis because of laws without any basis in science or good policy, and we must act now to correct this.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act would amend federal law to allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies and permit doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans to treat serious and chronic conditions.
"The Veterans Cannabis Coalition put this event together to showcase different ways for people to interact with cannabis, the natural relationship between veterans and cannabis, and to help normalize the perception of the herb in the eyes of the general public,” said Eric Goepel, founder & CEO, Veterans Cannabis Coalition. “We see this as part of our overall mission to end prohibition and hope to use events like these to build political support for cannabis reform legislation."
“This year alone,” Martin said, “we will lose more American heroes to drug overdose and suicide than those who died as the result of hostile action in every war combined since the end of the Vietnam War. The fact that the DEA is standing in the way of the medical use of cannabis to treat veterans and people in general is, in my opinion, tantamount to murder.”
“The fact that Pete Sessions, as chair of the House Rules Committee, has blocked the veterans Equal Access Amendment specifically and cannabis bills generally without anything as much as light admonishment from House leadership, shows where the conference’s true feelings lie.”
“Every day that cannabis prohibition continues is a day a veteran dies unnecessarily. The Republican conferees on the House Appropriations Committee and House Republican leadership should be ashamed of this backroom deal that stripped the Veterans Equal Access amendment from this year’s MILCON-VA appropriations bill. “
We believe this bill recognizes and works to end the absurd and destructive catch-22 that veterans who medicate with cannabis find themselves in—where the federal government criminalizes them for possession, hinders them in talking to their primary care VA doctors about cannabis, and blocks nearly all research into cannabis’ medical efficacy.
Self-care and gainful employment are critical components of life-long success for not just veterans but all Americans. For the federal government to essentially punish citizens, who are under the protection of their state laws, for exercising their right to care for themselves is an affront to personal liberty.