An important U.S. Senate panel voted to expand military veterans’ access to therapeutic marijuana on Thursday. By a bipartisan vote of 20 – 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a revision that would keep the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) from burning through cash to uphold a present strategy that precludes doctors from rounding out therapeutic cannabis recommendations in states where the medication is legal.

The move is “an important step in restoring complete health care options for veterans,” President of Veterans for Safe Access and Compassionate Care, Scott Murphy, said in an email. “With 22 daily veteran suicides, to include self-immolation on V.A. property, and an opiate epidemic that is affecting the veteran population in higher numbers than the civilian population, it is about time our politicians caught up with the populous views of American voters and take medical cannabis seriously.”

The measure, supported by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), is connected to the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill, which now heads to the entire Senate. Last November, the Senate endorsed the 2016 adaptation of the spending bill, with the medicinal cannabis dialect appended, yet the procurement was excluded in the last omnibus appropriations package marked into law by President Obama in December.

The V.A. approach is refusing its doctors from prescribing medical cannabis in states where it is lawful really terminated on January 31, however, under the division’s techniques, the ban technically stays essentially until another arrangement is authorized. Advocates expect another approach soon but aren’t certain what it will say. In February 2015, a top V.A. official affirmed before a House committee that the division is trying “active discussions” about how to address the developing number of veterans who are looking for cannabis medications.

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