House Committee Blocks Move to Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana

The House Rules Committee this week blocked US Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-OR) budget amendment that would have allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans.

Blumenauer spoke out against the House Rules Committee late yesterday after leadership blocked his amendment. That left Blumenauer without the ability to offer the amendment when the House considers the new 2018 Fiscal Year Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill later this week.

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“All we want is equal treatment for our wounded warriors. This provision overwhelmingly passed on the House floor last year – and bipartisan support has only grown,” Blumenauer said. “It’s outrageous that the Rules Committee won’t even allow a vote for our veterans. They deserve better. They deserve compassion.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs currently prohibits its medical providers from completing forms that would allow a qualified veteran to participate in a state medicinal marijuana program. This really hits home for Blumenauer.

“Given that veterans are more likely to commit suicide or die from opiate overdoses than civilians, our fight to provide them safer alternatives won’t stop here,” he said. “We have stronger support in the House and Senate than ever before, and we will keep advocating for a more rational approach.”

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Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has started to be more open with medicinal cannabis in the VA. Earlier in June, Shulkin said that cannabis might be ‘helpful’ to veterans.

In May of this year though, at the “State of the VA” speech, Shulkin made the VA’s position quite clear.

“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.

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The House passed a similar plan last year by a 233-189 vote, before getting thrown out by the Senate. Advocates were hopeful this year that Blumenauer’s bill would advance further.

The bipartisan amendment was co-sponsored by: Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Luis Correa (D-CA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Tom Garrett (R-VA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Tom Reed (R-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Don Young (R-AK).

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