The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed the proposed legislation on Wednesday despite objections from members to the veterans’ eligibility provisions.
Republican Senator and former Navy Rear Admiral William Payne called the provision offensive because it paints all military veterans as presumptive marijuana patients.
Philadelphia Marines veteran and marijuana advocate Mike Whiter thinks Payne has a point.
“I’m curious on what grounds they would qualify,” Whiter says. “I’m a vet and I smoke weed so I’m never going to say ‘Don’t give a vet weed,’ but it kind of muddies up medical marijuana when you say any vet can get it regardless of condition.”
“I think everybody deserves access to medical marijuana. I’ve always fought for all the people, not just vets,” says Whiter, a photojournalist, of his marijuana activism. He says often times convincing veterans they may benefit from cannabis can be an uphill battle.
“A lot of vets are conservative about cannabis. The VA doctors can’t recommend it. Veterans by nature are very conservative. More than 50 percent of vets won’t ever touch cannabis. Six years ago, I would have never thought of using it. But, shit, my attitude changed immensely when I started using cannabis,” Whiter says.