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Medical Marijuana Policy

U.S. House Voting On Whether To Allow VA Doctors To Discuss Medical Marijuana

veterans administration house medical marijuanaAs early as this afternoon the U.S. House could vote on an amendment that would allow doctors that work for the Veterans Administration to discuss medical marijuana and recommend its use in states where it is legal. The bipartisan amendment is being offered by Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Heck (R-NV), Farr (D-CA), Rohrabacher (R-CA), Reed (R-NY), Titus (D-NV), Gabbard (D-HI), Lee (D-CA) and Gallego (D-AZ).

“Veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor and use it if it’s medically necessary,” said Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “They have served this country valiantly, so the least we can do is allow them to have full and open discussions with their doctors.”

A similar amendment narrowly failed on the House floor last year, 195 to 222. The House subsequently went on to vote five times in favor of letting states set their own marijuana policies. One of the amendments, prohibiting the Justice Department from spending any money in Fiscal Year 2015 undermining state medical marijuana laws, made it into the final spending bill signed into law by President Obama. Advocates of the veterans amendment believe it has a very good chance of passing this year.

Studies have shown that medical marijuana can help treat post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, illnesses typically suffered by veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), however, specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding participation in a state medical marijuana program. This not only hurts veterans — it treats them differently than non-veterans who see doctors outside of the VA.

A legislative version of the Blumenauer/Heck amendment, the Veterans Equal Access Act, was introduced earlier this year by Rep. Blumenauer. Its language was also included in groundbreaking Senate medical marijuana legislation introduced in March. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act is the first-ever bill in the U.S. Senate to legalize marijuana for medical use and the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill ever introduced in Congress. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced it.

“The politics around marijuana have shifted in recent years,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Voters want reform and policymakers on both sides of the aisle are increasingly delivering it.”

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation

  • ĐΣFΣCŦΣĐ

    How did we get here? Why are we asking government for our God given rights?

    • Shadar

      There is a ton of information on the Web about how cannabis prohibition was introduced and how it has been maintained. You should do a little research and educate yourself.

      • ĐΣFΣCŦΣĐ

        Not really a question. I understood how it all fell apart. Just being cynical. Basically, we can’t keep asking please. We, must take from a government who is anti-freedom.

  • The truth

    Did they ever vote on this?

    • wowFAD

      Right now, its chances of getting a vote are about as likely as any other bill. It’s been introduced, which means a vote is always a possibility.

      It’s been assigned to the Health subcommittee of the House Veterans Affairs committee. Sadly, most introduced bills die in committee. Whether or not it dies in committee depends on that committee’s chair, Jeff Miller (R-FL). He’s not my Congressman, so I can’t say how likely that is to happen with any certainty.

      I can’t find any direct quotes or policy positions by Jeff Miller on Florida’s Amendment 2 or medical cannabis in general. A cursory look shows Jeff Miller supports harsher legal penalties for pill-mills. That *could* be in our favor, but that could also be part of a nebulous “drugs are bad” mentality Jeff Miller may have, which would certainly *not* make it more likely HR667 makes it out of his committee. His wiki page says he comes down on the conservative side of every social issue they have, and NORML gave him a -20 rating in 2006, but I don’t know what the scale is or how it was determined.

      To be brutally honest, it’s difficult for me to see how this particular establishment Republican who comes down squarely against so many things I support could possibly be in our corner when it comes to medical cannabis, but that could be a personal bias, so we won’t know until we know. Maybe he’s smart enough to recognize 57% of his state wants legal medical cannabis, or maybe he happens to represent the counties that voted against Amendment 2 last November. I’d have to cross-reference his district with the counties that supported Amendment 2. He might be “safe” letting HR667 die in his committee.

      • The truth

        Thank you for the breakdown wowFAD….sounds like it’s an uphill battle since this jerkoff is the committee chair.

        • wowFAD

          Whoops! Actually, I made a mistake — this article wasn’t about HR667, it was about an amendment to the appropriations bill for FY2016. Both HR667 and this amendment would have accomplished very similar things, so I conflated the two in my head. The vote on that amendment WAS yesterday. Sadly, it was defeated 210-213 with 175 Democrats and 35 Republicans voting in favor of the amendment, and 205 Republicans and 8 Democrats voting against it. I’m going to find a list of the 35 supporting Republicans and the 8 Democrats who did not. When it comes down to three votes, those details are very important.

          • wowFAD

            Doesn’t appear as if collating this information was important to anybody in the media… So I’ll do it, myself.

            35 Republicans who voted YES:
            Justin Amash (R-MI), Dan Benisheck (R-MI), Rod Blum (R-IA), John Boehner (R-OH), Ken Buck (R-CO), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Chris Collins (R-NY), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Mia Love (R-UT), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Alex Mooney (R-WV), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Scott Perry (R-PA), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), Tom Reed (R-NY), Tom Rice (R-SC), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Tom Rooney (R-FL), Mark Sanford (R-SC), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Fred Upton (R-MI), Don Young (R-AK), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), and Ryan Zinke (R-MT).

            8 Democrats who voted NO:
            Henry Cuellar (D-TX), John Garamendi (D-CA), William Keating (D-MA), Joseph Kennedy (D-MA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Terri Sewell (D-AL).

            8 Members of the House who did not vote:
            Ken Buck (R-CO), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), John Lewis (D-GA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Adam Smith (D-WA), Ann Wagner (R-MO), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).
            What’s especially surprising are the 15 Republican AYE votes from states that don’t have medical cannabis access. What’s especially frustrating are the five Democrat NO votes from states WITH medical cannabis, as well as the 8 members who abstained. Seriously, WTF?

    • Ryan744

      UPDATE:
      Unfortunately, it failed to pass by 3 votes, 210-213 with 8 members absent.
      http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll188.xml

  • Bruce Griffith

    Yet it seem to me if they allow a VA in any state regardless of weather or not it is legal in one state and not another ,the VA is a government medical institute and if it becomes legal in any state it has to be Legal Nation wide,they certainly can not pick and choose that would be a conflict of interest.