Senate panel OKs letting VA docs give advice on medical pot

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A GOP-controlled Senate panel Wednesday approved a plan to permit veterans to receive information about medical marijuana from their government doctors.

The proposal by freshman Sen. Steve Daines would lift a rule blocking Department of Veterans Affairs doctors from discussing the pros or cons of medical pot with their patients. They would still not be able to prescribe it.

Daines said veterans should be able to "talk openly and freely with their doctor about all options available to them."

The Appropriations Committee approved the measure by an 18-12 vote as an amendment to a bill funding the Department of Veterans Affairs. Four Republicans joined with panel Democrats in support of the move.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia permit the use of medical marijuana, which advocates say helps with conditions like chronic pain, glaucoma, anxiety, and nausea from chemotherapy or drugs to combat HIV.

The measure narrowly failed the House last month by a 213-210 vote.

In addition to Daines and every panel Democrat, GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana voted for the amendment.

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