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Lawmakers Push To Let VA Doctors Recommend Medical Marijuana And End THC Testing For Federal Job Applicants

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Bipartisan congressional lawmakers have filed a series of new amendments that seek to authorize U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations to military veterans, prevent marijuana testing for federal job applicants in legal states, prohibit the denial of security clearances over cannabis use and support research on the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics.

As part of a large-scale spending bill covering Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilConVA) for the 2025 fiscal year as well as the separate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), lawmakers filed several cannabis- and psychedelics-related amendments.

Two separate proposals from Reps. Brian Mast (R-FL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dave Joyce (R-OH), who together are the co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, would allow veterans to access state medical marijuana programs and eliminate a VA directive barring the department’s doctors from issuing cannabis recommendations.

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The MilConVA version of the amendment reads:

SEC. 419. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Veterans Affairs in this Act may be used to enforce Veterans Health Directive 1315 as it relates to—

(1) the policy stating that ”VHA providers are prohibited from completing forms or registering Veterans for participation in a State-approved marijuana program”;

(2) the directive for the ”Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management” to ensure that ”medical facility Directors are aware that it is VHA policy for providers to assess Veteran use of marijuana, but providers are prohibited from recommending, making referrals to or completing paperwork for Veteran participation in State marijuana programs”; and

(3) the directive for the ”VA Medical Facility Director” to ensure that ”VA facility staff are aware of the following” ”[t]he prohibition on recommending, making referrals to or completing forms and registering Veterans for participation in State-approved marijuana programs”.

The NDAA version states:

SEC. 17__. PROVISION BY DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND OPINIONS REGARDING VETERAN PARTICIPATION IN STATE MARIJUANA PROGRAMS.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall authorize physicians and other health care providers employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to

(1) provide recommendations and opinions to veterans who are residents of States with State marijuana programs regarding the participation of veterans in such State marijuana programs; and

(2) complete forms reflecting such recommendations and opinions.

(b) STATE DEFINED.—In this section, the term ”State” means each of the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, any territory or possession of the United States, and each federally recognized Indian Tribe.

The amendment is based on a standalone bill, the Veterans Equal Access Act, that Blumenauer has championed across multiple sessions. It’s advanced several times in committee and on the floor but has yet to be enacted into law.

Both the House and Senate included provisions in their respective MilConVA measures last year that would permit VA doctors to make medical cannabis recommendations, but they were not included in the final package for the 2024 version that was signed into law in March.

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Another measure that was filed ahead of Wednesday’s amendment deadline for the appropriations legislation comes from Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA). It would block the VA from subjecting job applicants to marijuana screenings as a condition of their employment if they live in a legal state.

SEC. 423. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to test an applicant for marijuana (as defined in section 102(16)(A) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802(16)(A)), except for positions listed as Presumptive Testing Designated Positions by the Selection of Testing Designated Positions Guidance under Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program established pursuant to Executive Order 12564, in—

(1) any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin; or

(2) the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands of the United States, or Guam.

Garcia similarly pursued the reform as amendments to multiple spending bills last session, but none were made in order for floor consideration.

The report for the MilConVA legislation approved by the House Appropriations Committee contains an additional provision noting that the panel “understands” VA has “clarified that nothing in VA statutes or regulations specifically prohibits a veteran whose income is derived from state-legalized cannabis activities from obtaining a certificate of eligibility for VA home loan benefits.”

“The Committee understands that VA is working to improve communication with eligible lending institutions to reduce confusion among lenders and borrowers on this matter,” it says.

Members of the House Rules Committee, which blocked numerous drug policy reform amendments from various spending measures last year under GOP control, are set to consider the proposed changes to the MilConVA bill next week, where leadership will determine whether to allow them to advance to the floor. The panel is expected to take up the NDAA legislation the week of June 10.

Meanwhile, the House Armed Services Committee passed the 2025 NDAA last week, and it includes provisions to eliminate marijuana testing for military enlistment purposes, requires a status update from the Department of Defense (DOD) on psychedelics clinical trials it’s been mandated to conduct and more.

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Garcia separately filed an amendment to the NDAA that was posted on Wednesday to prevent covered agencies from denying security clearances based solely on a person’s past marijuana use in a jurisdiction that has legalized such activity.

SEC. 17. PROHIBITION ON AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS TO DENY SECURITY CLEARANCES FOR MARIJUANA USAGE.

(a) PROHIBITION.—None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be used to revoke or deny a security clearance under section 3002(b) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (50 U.S.C. 3343(b)) or any other provision of law prior to the completion of a full security clearance background investigation by an authorized investigative agency and issuance of a final decision on denial or revocation by an authorized adjudicative agency on the sole basis that an individual used marijuana (as defined in section 102(16)(A) of title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 802(16)(A)) if, under the law of the State where such individual used marijuana, such use was lawful.”

(b) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:

(1) The terms ”authorized investigative agency” and ”authorized adjudicative agency” have the meanings given those terms in section 3001(a) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (50 U.S.C. 3341(a)).

(2) The term ”State” means each of the several States, and includes the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Reps. Jack Bergman (R-MI), Lou Correa (D-CA), Derrick Van Orden (R-WI), and Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) filed a MilConVA amendment to encourage the VA to support research into the benefits of psychedelics in treating medical conditions commonly affecting military veterans.

Increases and decreases the Medical and Prosthetic Research account at the Department of Veterans Affairs to express support for recently announced VA-funded research into psychedelic-assisted therapies to treat PTSD and depression and to encourage VA to prioritize the proactive training of therapists to administer these treatments.

A separate amendment from the same four lawmakers urges the VA to report to Congress on the possible incorporation of MDMA-assisted therapy into the department’s formulary following federal approval of the drug.

Increases and decreases the Medical Services account at the Department of Veterans Affairs to urge the VA to report to Congress no later than 180 days following approval of midomafetamine-assisted treatments to treat PTSD under Section 505 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act on possible incorporation of treatments in the formulary of the Department and the justification for such determination.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee recently passed a bill from Van Orden to require VA to notify Congress if any psychedelics are added to its formulary of covered prescription drugs.

Written by Kyle Jaeger for Marijuana Moment | Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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