A proposal allowing doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe [medical marijuana] to veterans appeared close to becoming law until Congress removed it this week from the agency’s annual budget bill at the last moment.

[Medical marijuana] is used to treatment of glaucoma, cancer, HIV and other health conditions. Veterans are also looking at it to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, which might affect about 20 percent of the 1.8 million servicemembers deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the National Center for PTSD.

The VA does offer pain management and substance abuse programs to veterans involved in state medical marijuana programs. However, veterans who are [prescribed medical marijuana] for a medical condition might be recommended drug abuse treatment.

The move was a blow to advocates of [medical marijuana] who have been trying to get the measure through a divided Congress and lowers the chances that a law might be passed this year.

“It’s outrageous that it was removed” from the annual VA budget bill, Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Sen. Jeff Merkley, said in a joint statement on Friday. “To add insult to injury, the legislation was released in the middle of the night, not even giving members of the House an opportunity to review the language before voting on it.”

The VA has said its hands are tied because the federal government considers [ medical marijuana] an illegal drug, despite state-level decriminalization and legalization.

[Medical marijuana] has been approved by 23 states and the District of Columbia. The Obama administration has dropped federal opposition to the laws.

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