The federal government currently bars Veterans Affairs hospitals and doctors from providing medical marijuana to former vets. But a new bill would allow that same government to provide cannabis to active military personnel in the middle of combat.
The Senate is currently working on a new version of the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that outlines how the military will operate in the next year. A section of the new bill would allow the Defense Department to provide troops with drugs or medical devices that are not signed off by the Food and Drug Administration. Under current law, the military is only allowed to provide medicines that are approved by the FDA.
Now, the current law has nothing to do with marijuana. Republicans are the ones adding in this new section because certain freeze-dried plasmas which could help injured troops in the field are not FDA approved. They argue that this will allow the military to more adequately respond to soldiers' needs without having to deal with red tape from other regulatory agencies.
But it's possible that this law could lead to a scenario where marijuana is given to active troops. The point of the bill is to allow soldiers to come home safely. Wouldn't marijuana help with that? They could provide the drug to soldiers dealing with PTSD symptoms in the field or help a solider dealing with painful injuries. Under this proposed law, it sounds like the Defense Department would be able to provide marijuana in these instances.
It's unclear if the law will actually go into effect. The FDA is very against it, claiming it could lead to the military giving soldiers dangerous and risky drugs with unintended consequences. They proposed a compromise where the Defense Department could apply for emergency approval of drugs needed for soldiers in the field.
And even if the law is passed, it's possible the military wouldn't even touch marijuana due to the political controversy around the drug. But it would certainly send a message if they did.