Lawmakers halt bill to let VA doctors prescribe pot for pain

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 27, 2017

A House committee has struck down a measure allowing Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to discuss and recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states where the drug is legal, blocking it from debate Wednesday on the House floor. Last year, the amendment passed on the floor of the House by a vote of 242-186. The amendment is now in effect after being signed into law this year, despite only receiving a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Blumenauer, who is the founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said: "This isn't going away".

"Until the time that federal law changes, we are not able to be able to prescribe medical marijuana for the conditions that may be helpful", he said. "I think there's an excellent chance it happens this Congress, as veterans become more and more outspoken about why they shouldn't be treated like second class citizens". Last year, it passed the Senate with huge support from both parties. The American Legion, the largest veterans organization with 2.4 million members, last August called for marijuana to be rescheduled as something other than a Schedule 1 drug to promote research on its use in medical treatment. The bill would remove barriers inhibiting medical marijuana research.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., introduced the amendment in the Senate's version of the VA spending bill. "It's outrageous that the Rules Committee won't even allow a vote for our veterans", Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said in a prepared statement. "We are beginning to make real progress for Montana's veterans and I look forward to continuing to make progress for them". "We were disgusted by the process (last year) but I think the Veterans Equal Access amendment will pass, and it's nearly the end of the road for us in terms of a quantifiable success". After this week's setback, lawmakers and veterans said they will continue pushing to get the amendment passed.

So, to all the disabled veterans sick of using pharmacologic solutions when mere medical marijuana would work better, "No pot for you!" The amendment - led by Senator Leahy (D-VT) - is a striking rebuke of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had personally requested that Congress eliminate the amendment and allow him to prosecute medical marijuana providers and patients. The decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington, DC.

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