Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Veterans Equal Access Amendment

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The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an amendment as part of the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that would allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend cannabis to their patients in states where it is legal.

The Veterans Equal Access Amendment reads:

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Veterans Affairs in this Act may be used in a manner that would — (1) interfere with the ability of a veteran to participate in a medicinal marijuana program approved by a State; (2) deny any services from the Department to a veteran who is participating in such a program; or (3) limit or interfere with the ability of a healthcare provider of the Department to make appropriate recommendations, fill out forms, or take steps to comply with such a program.

Congress approved the amendment 20-10 during last year’s appropriations spending; however it was ultimately removed by Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee. This year, the amendment passed 24-7 – three Senators who voted “no” on the measure last year switched their vote, and the two new members of the committee voted “aye.”

An identical amendment is expected to be included in House budgets this year.

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