Times certainly are changing. Just this last month, a Republican legislator introduced a bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level. Ohio Congressman Dave Joyce, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, proposed legislation called the “Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses, and Medical Professionals Act” to put an end to the federal prohibition on marijuana by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances List. If passed, the bill would provide access to medical marijuana to millions of Americans, and pave the way for research into the drug’s effectiveness in treating and managing medical conditions.
Legislation Aimed At Helping Veterans
One major point of the bill is that it would allow for veterans to finally have access to medical marijuana to treat certain qualifying conditions. Under current federal law, the VA Hospital, which treats former and current members of the military, is unable to prescribe medical marijuana due to its presence on the Controlled Substances List. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and insomnia are common conditions among veterans who have witnessed combat. In states where medical marijuana is legal, civilian medical providers have prescribed cannabis to effectively treat or manage these conditions. However, clinicians at VA hospitals in those states are federally prohibited from discussing or using medical marijuana as a treatment, despite its proven success in addressing conditions that are prevalent among veterans. The law proposed by Representative Joyce would allow for the VA hospital to prescribe medical marijuana for those conditions in states where it is legal.
Support for the legislation appears to be gaining momentum. “For too long, the federal government’s outdated cannabis policies have stood in the way of both individual liberty and a state’s 10th Amendment rights. It is long past time that these archaic laws are updated for the 21st Century,” said Republican Congressman Don Young of Alaska. “As Co-Chair of the Cannabis Caucus and Representative of a state with legal adult-use cannabis, I am proud to help introduce the Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses, and Medical Professionals Act. I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand with us in this crucial effort.”
Banking And Research Also Targeted By The Bill
In addition to removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances List, the bill also would:
- Direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to issue rules to regulate cannabis within one year of the Act’s enactment.
- Create a federal preemption to protect financial institutions and other businesses in states where cannabis is not legal so that they can service cannabis companies.
- Allow the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to prescribe medical cannabis to veterans.
- Direct the National Institutes of Health to conduct two studies on cannabis as it pertains to pain management and cannabis impairment, and to report the findings of the studies to Congress within two years of enactment.
With over half of all states having legalized marijuana in some form, many Americans feel that the time is right for a change in how the federal government treats the drug. While there is still not a consensus, recent polls suggest that the public’s perception of the drug has shifted in recent years, and it appears to be only a matter of time until the law catches up. The fact that some Republican lawmakers are in favor of legalization, making the efforts now bipartisan, could be a sign of changes to come in federal law.