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Congress Unites for Change: Military Cannabis Restrictions Under Fire

Congressional lawmakers from across party lines are seeking to ease restrictions on cannabis use among military personnel, hoping to attract more recruits to the armed forces.

Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, known for his conservative views, is making headlines again. This time, he is pushing for a significant change in military regulations regarding cannabis. Gaetz introduced an amendment on Thursday that aims to put an end to cannabis testing for military personnel.

The proposed amendment has been put forward as an addition to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA is a yearly reauthorization of military programs approved by Congress.

Rep. Gaetz is spearheading an amendment that seeks to abolish cannabis testing for service members at the time of their enlistment and when becoming commissioned officers.

Gaetz stated in a tweet the need for our military to fix the recruitment and retainment crisis that is currently happening and went on to say, "I do not believe that prior use of cannabis should exclude Americans from enlisting in the armed forces. We should embrace them for stepping up to serve our country."

The military is grappling with a recruitment crisis, but they are implementing innovative strategies to overcome it. In an effort to boost their numbers, they are providing attractive bonuses and temporarily relaxing the requirement for recruits to have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

In response to a growing need for new soldiers, the army made a significant move in 2017 by easing restrictions on marijuana use. This idea of using looser guidelines for marijuana as a recruitment solution is not a new concept.

Lawmakers from both parties, including Gaetz, have introduced amendments to the NDAA aimed at relaxing the military's regulations on cannabis usage.

A bipartisan amendment has been proposed by the Congressional Cannabis Caucus that would permit doctors from the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe cannabis as a treatment option for patients in states where it is legal for medical use. This amendment has garnered support from representatives on both sides of the aisle, including Reps. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio).

Mast, a 12-year Army Veteran, along with Representative Blumenauer, recently proposed a significant bill that would provide veterans with the choice of using medical cannabis as a treatment option. This legislative effort aims to address the healthcare needs of those who have served our country.

Mast shared his concerns stating, "Our veteran population is facing multiple epidemics, including addiction and suicide, and we owe it to them to make sure they’ve got every tool possible in the arsenal to deal with the impacts of battle - that includes medical cannabis."

In conclusion, bipartisan efforts are underway in Congress to ease cannabis restrictions for military personnel with the aim of addressing the recruitment crisis faced by the armed forces. Representative Matt Gaetz has introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would eliminate cannabis testing for service members during enlistment and when becoming commissioned officers. This move seeks to attract more individuals to serve in the military by acknowledging that prior cannabis use should not automatically disqualify potential recruits.

Furthermore, the Congressional Cannabis Caucus has proposed an amendment to allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to prescribe medical cannabis in states where it is legal, benefiting veterans in need of alternative treatment options. These legislative efforts highlight the recognition of cannabis as a potential solution to the healthcare needs of our servicemen and women, signaling a shift in perspective within the military and Congress.


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