New bill would protect veterans from losing benefits over using legal marijuana

The Apothecarium, a new medical cannabis dispensary in the Marina neighborhood of San Francisco, Ca., as seen on Tues. July 25, 2017.

American war veterans would not have to worry about losing federal benefits over marijuana use under a new bill in Congress.

Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) introduced a bipartisan bill on Wednesday to standardize a Veterans Affairs policy that prohibits penalizing veterans by stripping their benefits if they use cannabis in compliance with state law, the Marijuana Moment reports.

‘As a veteran, I’m committed to ensuring that veterans receive the care they deserve.’

Bringing those protections into federal law would ensure that they couldn’t be changed by a future administration. The legislation would also allow physicians at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recommend medical cannabis to their patients in accordance with state law.

“As a veteran, I’m committed to ensuring that veterans receive the care they deserve, and I know that sometimes that care can include medical marijuana,” Steube said in a press release. “Receiving the appropriate treatment to address your health care needs—using products that are legal in the state in which you live—should not preclude you from your Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.”

Known as the “Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act,” the bill broadly covers veterans “participating in a state-approved marijuana program,” meaning that veterans who legally use recreational cannabis would also be shielded from losing their benefits.

Steube further explained his support of respecting states’ rights when it comes to marijuana laws.

“While it is the current policy of the VA to not deny benefits to veterans based on participation in these state-based medical marijuana programs, this bill will ensure that no future policy or administration change could put these veterans at risk of losing their benefits when they are in compliance with state law. It also allows VA staff to help veterans fill out the forms necessary to enroll in a state-approved program instead of having to rely on a private physician. This makes things easier for veterans who are in desperate need of these medical options.”

The legislation currently has one cosponsor in Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-CA).

Oscar Pascual is the editor of Smell the Truth, syndicated on GreenState and SFGATE. Smell The Truth is one of the internet’s most popular destinations for cannabis-related news and culture. This blog is not written or edited by Hearst. The authors are solely responsible for the content.