Congressman Blumenauer to Senator Mark Kirk: Show Respect and Compassion for Our Veterans
Since 2014, United States Representative Earl Blumenauer has led the effort to make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical cannabis. Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors are not allowed to talk to patients about medical cannabis, even if they know that it will help.
Cannabis has been proven to help various ailments that many veterans suffer from, notably post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Numerous studies have shown that cannabis can help those suffering from PTSD.
Cannabis also helps with things like chronic pain and other common ailments that veterans deal with. That is why Earl Blumenauer has been pushing so hard to allow VA doctors to discuss cannabis with patients..
The United States House of Representatives this year passed, with broad bipartisan support, Earl Blumenauer's proposal to strike down the Department of Veterans Affairs policy that specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms allowing a qualified veteran to participate in a state medical cannabis program.
Senator Mark Kirk the vocal opponent
The U.S. Senate passed a similar proposal like Earl Bluemenauer's. But, despite bipartisan and bicameral support, the language was stripped from the final legislation in a closed-door conference committee.
Senator Kirk was a vocal opponent of the proposal during Senate consideration and was on the conference committee that determined the final language of the legislation.
Earl Blumenauer's open letter to Senator Mark Kirk
In reaction to Senator Kirk's vocal opposition, Representative Earl Blumenauer wrote a public letter to Senator Kirk, which is located below:
Dear Senator Kirk:
“I don't think we have too few high veterans out there.”
These were your words about my proposal making it easier for qualified veterans to access state-legal medical marijuana programs.
Our veterans are returning home with injuries that are both visible and unseen—experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries, chronic pain, and more. These wounded warriors should be treated with dignity, respect, and concern, and we should be helping them access the care they need. It is simply unconscionable that instead, you disparage them as drug addicts. Your statement is not only inappropriate, but dismissive of the serious issues faced by our veterans.
We are in crisis mode as opioid addiction and abuse are on the rise, and the risk is higher for veterans, who are frequently prescribed opioids. Of the nearly 1 million veterans who receive opioid treatment for pain, over half continue to consume those pills beyond 90 days. They are dying of opiate overdoses at nearly double the national average.
In many cases, medical marijuana can be a safer, more effective alternative to these highly addictive prescription opioids in treating certain conditions. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), however, prohibits its medical providers from completing forms allowing a qualified veteran to participate in a state medical marijuana program. This outdated and out of touch policy is forcing our veterans outside of the VA system to seek a recommendation for medical marijuana as a possible treatment option in states where it is legal, like Illinois.
The proposal you spoke out against was passed by both the House and Senate with bipartisan votes. It strikes this policy down to allow veterans to consult with their personal VA physician, who know their medical history best, about medical marijuana as a possible treatment option. The proposal in no way requires a VA provider to recommend medical marijuana, but rather makes a conversation on all treatment options between doctor and patient more accessible.
Instead of standing up and fighting for veterans in Illinois and around the country, you, however, introduce unwelcome mockery into the debate. Are you really opposed to giving doctors more options to treat our nation’s veterans? Where is your courage? Where is your sense of moral obligation to help those who served to protect us?
I implore you to show compassion, change course, and support this bipartisan effort.
Member of Congress
Military veterans deserve to use medicine that works
Military veterans have served our country proudly, and they deserve to use medicine that works, whether it be cannabis or otherwise.
Politicians that oppose medical cannabis for veterans lack compassion. Health decisions for veterans should be made by medical professionals, not politicians.
If you would like to contact Senator Mark Kirk and let him know what you think about his stance on medical cannabis and the VA, you can contact him at this link here.
Should veterans be allowed to use medical cannabis to treat symptoms of PTSD?