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Veteran Erik Asher hopes to see the day Pennsylvania allows cannabis for all adults.
Asher, 51, who lives outside of Pittsburgh, served in Operation Desert Storm and has a medical marijuana card for post-traumatic stress disorder. He buys cannabis at a dispensary, then makes his own medicine and educates others on the benefits of doing so.
“The people are done asking. We’re tired of it,” Asher said. “I’m done asking for permission for something I’ve needed from day one.”
The 116th Congress just went into session this week, and a bipartisan marijuana reform bill has already been introduced in the House.
US Representatives Steve Cohen and Don Young re-introduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act on Thursday as one of their first acts in the new session. The legislation would let states establish their own medical cannabis programs free of federal intervention and also allow physicians at the Department of Veterans Affairs to issue medical cannabis recommendations for veterans.
For Leo Bridgewater, a 43-year-old Iraq veteran who demonstrated for legalization during a Memorial Day "Plants Over Pills" rally in Washington, D.C., recent developments signal the beginning of a rational new era in American drug policy, particularly with its armed forces.
"I'll tell you the truth," says Bridgewater, "if they let us smoke cannabis in the Army, I would still be in today. I would estimate that 75, maybe 80 percent of the guys in uniform feel the same way. They just can't say it."
A powerful congressional panel is set to weigh four marijuana measures next week.
One proposal would allow military veterans to receive medical cannabis recommendations from their doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Another would protect veterans from losing access to their VA benefits as a punishment for medical marijuana use. A third would shield VA employees who are veterans and who use marijuana in accordance with state law from being fired. And another concerns water rights for marijuana and hemp growers.
Marijuana Moment got a first look at the provisions of a bipartisan marijuana bill that could be filed as soon as this week by U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in line with President Trump’s agreement to respect state cannabis laws.