Citing concerns about the impact on veterans participating in Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program, three advocacy organizations have submitted testimony expressing strong opposition to a Department of Human Services proposal that would ban the use of “narcotics prohibited by federal law” at the Veterans’ Home in Bristol. The organizations are the ACLU of RI, the RI Patient Advocacy Coalition and Protect Families First. The group testimony notes that, as currently worded, DHS’ proposal would prevent resident veterans from using medical marijuana that state law explicitly allows them to use for their medical condition.
Since 2006, Rhode Island has authorized the use of medical marijuana for a variety of medical conditions. Even more pertinent, two years ago the General Assembly approved important legislation specifically allowing individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to use medical marijuana to ease their symptoms. Passage of that amendment was prompted in large part by the plight of veterans suffering from PTSD.
The group’s written testimony to DHS cites recent news coverage highlighting the use of medical marijuana for the relief of PTSD and for alleviating what some are calling a suicide epidemic among veterans. The testimony argues that DHS’ proposal “would actually amount to a step backward in addressing this literal life-or-death issue for our state’s veterans.” The organizations have requested that the provision be eliminated and that the regulations be clarified so as not to negatively impact veterans who participate in and benefit from the State’s medical marijuana program.
Since the testimony was submitted earlier this month, the New England Veterans Alliance, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of veterans for improved access to medical cannabis therapies, has also expressed its opposition to the regulation.