Clearing the Smoke: Examining Veterans’ Access to Cannabis in the United States

In the United States, where the debate over cannabis legalization continues to spark contentious discussions, one group often finds itself at the forefront of this battle – our veterans. These brave men and women, who have sacrificed so much in the service of their country, are increasingly turning to cannabis as a potential alternative to conventional treatments for various physical and psychological conditions they face post-service. As the landscape of cannabis legislation evolves across the nation, it is imperative to shed light on the challenges veterans encounter in accessing this controversial yet potentially life-changing plant medicine. Join us as we delve into the complexities surrounding veteran's access to cannabis, exploring the benefits, hurdles, and the broader implications of this ongoing issue.

Who is a Veteran?

veterans and cannabis use

In the United States, veterans are individuals who have served in the United States Armed Forces and have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. These individuals have completed their service in any branch of the military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Veterans may have served during times of peace or war, and they can include active duty members, reservists, and National Guard personnel who have completed their service. The definition of a veteran can vary depending on specific benefits or programs, but generally, any person who has served and been honorably discharged is considered a veteran in the United States.

Veterans and Cannabis Use

In the past, the stance on veterans' use of cannabis in the United States has been largely restrictive and prohibitive. The federal government, including the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), strictly adhered to the federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance. This classification categorized cannabis as having a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, which resulted in severe limitations on its use and research.

As a consequence, veterans faced significant hurdles in accessing medical cannabis, even in states where medical marijuana was legalized. VA doctors were not allowed to recommend or prescribe cannabis to their patients, and VA facilities were prohibited from providing cannabis or assisting veterans in obtaining it. This posed a significant challenge for veterans seeking alternative treatments for various physical and mental health conditions, including chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

The restrictive stance on cannabis use also led to a lack of research on its potential benefits for veterans' health conditions. This limited the scientific understanding of how cannabis could be used as a potential alternative or complementary therapy for veterans.

However, in recent years, there has been growing recognition of the potential benefits of cannabis for veterans' health, and public opinion on the matter has shifted. Some states have legalized both medical and recreational cannabis, and there have been efforts to amend federal legislation to provide greater access to medical cannabis for veterans. As societal attitudes and cannabis laws evolve, there is a broader conversation about reevaluating the stance on veterans' use of cannabis and exploring its potential benefits as a viable treatment option for those who have served their country.

Benefits of Cannabis for Veterans

can veterans use cannabis?

Pain Management

Many veterans live with chronic pain due to injuries sustained during their service. Cannabis has shown promise in managing pain without the risks associated with opioid use, which can lead to addiction.

PTSD and Mental Health

PTSD is a widespread issue among veterans, and cannabis has been reported to help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with this condition, such as anxiety and nightmares.

Reduced Dependency on Pharmaceuticals

By using cannabis as an alternative to pharmaceuticals, veterans may reduce their reliance on opioids and other potentially addictive medications, which can lead to significant health improvements.

Improved Quality of Life

Some veterans find that cannabis use enhances their overall quality of life, helping them to relax, sleep better, and engage more fully with their families and communities.

Challenges and Barriers

challenges with veterans and cannabis

Despite the potential benefits, military veterans face several challenges when it comes to accessing and consuming cannabis:

Legal Restrictions

Federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, making it illegal at the federal level. This disconnect between federal and state laws can create confusion and anxiety for veterans.

VA Policy

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a policy that prohibits its healthcare providers from discussing or recommending medical cannabis to patients, even in states where it is legal. This policy can deter veterans from exploring cannabis as a treatment option.


Many veterans are hesitant to disclose their cannabis use due to the stigma associated with it, which can limit their access to medical care and support services.

Lack of Research

Despite the promising anecdotal evidence, there is still a need for more scientific research to better understand the potential benefits and risks of cannabis use for veterans.

Hope on the Horizon

new laws for cannabis and veterans

November 2023 saw a significant move towards improving veterans' access to medical cannabis as the U.S. Senate approved a bill that includes a provision allowing doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to issue medical marijuana recommendations to veterans residing in states with legalized medical cannabis programs. This decision sets the stage for a conference with the House of Representatives, which has independently advanced similar language in its version of the appropriations legislation.

This development follows the House's passage of its MilCon VA bill approximately three months prior, which included an amendment sponsored by Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) and other members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. This amendment also sought to grant VA doctors the ability to recommend medical cannabis to veterans.

However, the exact language of the Senate and House proposals differs slightly, necessitating reconciliation in a bicameral conference committee or negotiations between House and Senate leaders to produce a final bill. This bill will then be sent to the president for potential enactment into law. A similar situation occurred in 2016 when both chambers included varying versions of the VA marijuana amendment in their appropriations bills, only for it to be entirely omitted from the final law.

Senator Merkley emphasized the importance of allowing VA doctors to discuss the full range of legal treatment options with their patients, citing the need to remove outdated laws that hinder veterans' doctor-patient relationships. He expressed his commitment to working with colleagues in both the House and Senate to make this important option a reality for American veterans.

Here are the key components of the veterans cannabis provision as passed by the Senate:

  • None of the funds allocated to the Department of Veterans Affairs may be used to interfere with a veteran's participation in a state-approved medicinal marijuana program.
  • Veterans participating in such programs should not be denied any services from the Department.
  • Healthcare providers at the VA should not have their ability to make appropriate recommendations, fill out forms, or take steps to comply with state-approved marijuana programs limited or interfered with.
  • The House version of the MilConVA bill includes a similar provision, emphasizing the need to prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from enforcing its policy that hinders veterans from participating in state-approved marijuana programs. Both chambers are now tasked with reconciling their differences to ensure that veterans have access to medical cannabis, a potentially vital treatment option for many.

The Veterans Equal Access Act, which has been introduced multiple times with bipartisan support but has yet to be enacted, mirrors the policy goals of these provisions.

While progress is being made in terms of medical cannabis access for veterans, challenges and obstacles remain. Nonetheless, these recent developments indicate that there is growing support for improving veterans' access to medical cannabis as a potential treatment for various medical conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain. The hope is that these changes will provide veterans with more comprehensive care and treatment options, while also addressing the unique needs of this group of individuals who have sacrificed so much for their country.


The relationship between military veterans and cannabis is a complex and evolving issue. While there is growing acceptance of the potential benefits of cannabis for veterans, legal and bureaucratic barriers remain significant challenges. It is essential to continue the conversation, advocate for policy changes, and invest in research to better understand the implications of cannabis use for veterans' well-being.

In the meantime, veterans and their healthcare providers must carefully weigh the potential benefits and risks of cannabis use, considering individual circumstances and the current legal landscape. Open and honest discussions, combined with further research, can help navigate this complex terrain and ensure that veterans receive the care and support they need.

E1011 Labs: Revolutionizing Cannabis Consumption for All

dry herb vape device

In an era of expanding cannabis legalization and evolving preferences among consumers, E1011 Labs has emerged as a pioneer in the field of cannabis consumption devices. With a commitment to delivering safe, efficient, and user-friendly products, here at E1011 Labs we have introduced groundbreaking devices that cater to a wide range of cannabis enthusiasts.

The iven™ Dry Herb Vaporizer: A Revolution in Flavor and Precision

One of our flagship products, the iven dry herb vaporizer, is designed to provide a remarkable cannabis consumption experience. The iven stands out for its innovative use of convection heating technology, which ensures that cannabis is heated evenly without direct contact, preventing combustion and the harmful byproducts associated with traditional smoking.

What sets the iven apart from the rest is its user-centric design. With four precision heating temperatures to choose from, users can tailor their experience to suit their preferences. Whether you prioritize flavor, smoothness, or vapor production, the iven empowers you to find the ideal balance, offering a customized and controlled experience that is not typically associated with traditional methods of consumption.

This level of precision in heating ensures that cannabinoids and terpenes are released at their optimal temperatures, providing users with the full spectrum of flavors and effects that cannabis has to offer. The iven dry herb vaporizer is a testament to our commitment to developing devices that empower consumers to explore the nuances of their chosen cannabis strains.

The elon™ Heat-Not- Burn Device: An Innovative Approach to Cannabis Consumption

Another pioneering creation from E1011 Labs is our elon heat-not-burn device, a cutting-edge solution designed to release cannabinoids without combustion. Unlike traditional smoking methods, the elon employs proprietary flower-filled pods that eliminate the need for grinding,  packing, and open flames and reduces exposure to the harmful byproducts associated with combustion.

The elon provides users with a seamless, combustion-free alternative, creating an innovative consumption method without sacrificing the satisfaction of inhaling cannabinoids. This technology also ensures that the nuanced flavors and aromas of the cannabis flower are preserved, making it an ideal choice for those who appreciate the subtleties of different strains.

Our elon heat-not-burn device is not only a testament to innovation but also a reflection of the company's commitment to offering diverse options for cannabis consumption. Whether you're a seasoned connoisseur or new to the world of cannabis, E1011 Labs' devices are designed to provide a convenient and enjoyable way to experience the benefits of cannabis.

In conclusion, E1011 Labs has carved a niche for ourselves in the cannabis industry by delivering user-friendly devices that cater to a diverse range of consumers. With the iven dry herb vaporizer and the elon heat-not-burn device, we offer innovation, precision, and a safer way to consume cannabis, setting new standards for cannabis consumption devices in the ever-evolving landscape of legal cannabis.

If you are a veteran make sure to leave us a note during check out so we can add a sweet surprise to your purchase!