WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – A Florida Congressman joined forces with a group of experts on World Suicide Prevention Day to find out how cannabis could help lower suicide rates among veterans.
Air Force Veteran Derek Blumke, the co-founder and former president of Student Veterans of America, showed up at Capitol Hill Tuesday to share his battle with prescription drugs. He noted many have found relief with medical cannabis.
Blumke, however, says not everyone can utilize medical marijuana because of the conflict between state and federal laws.
Rep. Charlie Crist agrees there is a problem.
“You know we have 33 states in America now that have legalized medical marijuana but at the federal level that still isn’t recognized. And so that caused a conflict obviously,” Rep. Crist (D-FL) said.
Veterans and other government employees who try medical cannabis for treatment could be fired from their federal jobs.
Crist has since introduced the Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act to prevent that from happening.
But some want more research before giving a green light.
Will Jones with Smart Approaches to Marijuana says there is no major medical association recommending marijuana for treatment of depression, anxiety or PTSD. He says a blanket approach to medical cannabis laws isn’t safe.
“We have to be very careful when there is an industry whose profit comes from more use of this product,” Jones said. “That’s extremely irresponsible for public health and that does a disservice to those that have served our country.”
This past June, Congressman Crist was able to secure a provision in the annual Financial Services funding bill that preserves federal employment opportunities for veterans and others using medical marijuana. This language essentially accompanies the budget that the House approved which direct how funds will be spent. Congress has to approve the spending bill before Sept. 30th.