Texas Veterans Call for Medical Access to Cannabis and an End to Federal Interference

On Friday, Texas veterans from across the state called on federal leaders to protect state medical cannabis programs and allow VA doctors to recommend cannabis in states where it’s legal.

(Texas: Tell Congress to help veterans and patients!)

DALLAS, Texas — Military veterans and medical marijuana advocates gathered on Friday in support of a recently launched mobile billboard and bring attention to federal legislation that could help veterans gain access to medical marijuana. The event is also meant to pressure Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) to stop interfering with marijuana-related federal budget amendments. Speakers included a number of military veterans, including Keith Crooks, a retired Air Force Major.

In September, Rep. Sessions spearheaded an effort in the House Rules Committee that resulted in two marijuana policy amendments being ruled “out of order”: one that would allow Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to discuss or recommend medical marijuana to their patients and another that would continue to prevent the Department of Justice from prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. This deprived the rest of the House from considering these amendments, including representatives from Texas whose constituents could be affected by their absence from the FY2018 budget.

“As a registered Republican, I would like to remind Congressman Sessions that the Republican Party of Texas supports state-level access to medical cannabis,” said Keith Crooks, a retired Air Force Major and forensic scientist. “We believe that it is our state’s right to offer this important medical freedom to our citizens. Therefore, Congress should respect states’ rights and allow them to regulate cannabis as they see fit.”

Presently, VA doctors are not permitted to discuss medical marijuana with their patients, forcing many veterans to go to other doctors in order to learn about it or obtain a recommendation that would allow them to participate in a medical marijuana program. This policy can limit their treatment options to powerful, potentially addictive prescription drugs, and causes financial and other hardships for those veterans who seek out non-VA providers.

“Cannabis replaces half of the eight pharmaceutical drugs I take regularly and should be legal for medical use,” said Juliet Giglio, a third-generation military veteran who lives in Rep. Sessions’ district. “It is unacceptable that our federal government, including my own congressman, would have veterans and other patients suffer while there is a better, safer alternative.”

Advocates are currently encouraging Texans to contact their lawmakers, Rep. Sessions, and Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston) to urge them to help veterans and protect state rights regarding medical marijuana. Rep. Culberson is a member of the congressional appropriations conference committee that will make the final determination of whether to include the marijuana amendments in the budget bill this year.

“Texas veterans are standing up against propaganda and in support of cannabis as a viable alternative to dangerous and addictive opiates and psychotropics,” said David Bass, a retired Army Major.