Veterans will no longer have to pay for medical marijuana cards if bills filed by Sen. Janet Cruz and Rep. Adam Hattersley pass in the upcoming Florida legislative session in January.
The Hillsborough County lawmakers, both Democrats, recently filed legislation to waive the registration fees for vets. The goal is to increase their access to treatments other than opioids.
Rep. Hattersley spent eight years in the U.S. Navy including a combat tour in Iraq, and said he has seen first-hand the physical and mental trauma military service can cause. That's why he wants to save veterans eligible to use marijuana for treatment some extra money.
Patients currently have to register for a medical marijuana card every year, and pay $75 each time.
"So it's not a huge burden, but any small thing that we can do to help veterans get the treatment they deserve, I think we need to do," Hattersley said.
Other states offer similar discounts for veterans, seniors and low-income residents. If passed, this would be the first medical marijuana discount offered in Florida.
The cost of the card itself is just one of many costs medical marijuana patients have to pay out-of-pocket for, as private insurance nor the VA will cover treatment.
The VA allows veterans in its care to use medical marijuana, but does not allow VA doctors to recomend it.
Patients have to see private-sector doctors who are qualified to recommend medical marijuana. The initial visit typically costs about $250.
Medical marijuana products and equipment sold in dispensaries can range from $20 to more than $300.