Two state lawmakers want to ease veterans’ access to medical marijuana by waiving ID card application and renewal fees for service-disabled veterans.
Sen. Janet Cruz, a Tampa Democrat, introduced a bill (SB 98), which would prohibit the Department of Health from charging qualified veterans or their caregivers the $75 fee for obtaining or renewing medical marijuana ID cards.
It also exempts these veterans from the $15 replacement fee for lost cards.
Medical marijuana advocates say cannabis can reduce the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and that cannabidiol (CBD), marijuana’s main non-hallucinogenic compound, reduces pain. Marijuana is a less habit-forming alternative to opioids traditionally used to treat chronic pain, advocates add.
“These brave men and women have served our nation with distinction and honor,” Cruz said in a statement. “Providing free medical marijuana cards for service-disabled veterans is a benefit that I hope will encourage alternative treatments methods and help address the opioid crisis facing veterans.”
Rep. Adam Hattersley, a Riverview Democrat and Iraq War veteran, filed the bill’s House counterpart (HB 543).
“I’ve seen what recovery looks like for soldiers injured in active duty,” Hattersley said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s our responsibility help these service members get whatever medicine they need to get relief.”
Of the 1.5 million veterans living in Florida, about 330,000 receive some form of disability compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2016. An unknown number use medical marijuana.
Several other states provide medical marijuana ID card discounts to veterans, seniors or Medicare and Medicaid recipients, according to the release. If passed, this program would be the first in Florida.