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

July 26, 2017
In this June 8, 2011 file photo, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, speaks during an interview, in Portland, Ore. Blumenauer is one of several lawmakers from both parties who are working to change U.S. marijuana laws, including moves to legalize the industrial production of hemp and establish a federal pot tax. Rick Bowmer/AP)
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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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • Silverado

    Thank God and the voters they don’t have to ask anyone anything when it comes to cannabis in this state. It’s legal here with zillions of different varieties and products and because there’s so much produced, prices are a lot lower than many expected. At the local recreational shop, Miller’s Marijuana in Elma Washington (check their menu here on Leafly), sub $100 ounces of premium flower are $80 out the door fully taxed. There’s the expensive strains too if that’s what rocks you. The point is that there’s no doctor required for inexpensive and high quality cannabis here in this state. And really it’s none of the VA’s business either. If I had to be needing cannabis and was medically retired military and really could live anywhere I’d want to do that right here in Washington state and in any location except left wing Seattle. Good luck

    • mf2112

      The VA tests for drugs. They are not free to partake if they want to continue to get health care from the VA.

      • Silverado

        True but if you live far enough from one of their facilities they’ll send you to a non VA doctor who doesn’t really care what the VA likes or not in the way of cannabis. This doctor will ask if you’re getting any relief and may even tell you there’s no need to be stopping anything that works. And as the medical privacy laws are VERY strict here, he couldn’t tell the VA anything even if he wanted to. I’d just recommend finding out how far that distance is in effect for here and make sure I didn’t start looking for a place until that was even a few miles further. If I can drive with a CDL for 20+ years with a perfect driving record while imbibing everyday because I had to and was never caught, someone who’s a lot worse off than myself can figure out a way too. There’s LOTS of them, trust me…

      • SheWoreCombatBoots

        July of 2011 law was passed that Veterans would no longer be denied healthcare OR benefits for use of
        medically aithorized, marijuana found in UA tests or otherwise.
        You are mistaken. I am a veteran, receiving benifits at 100 percent service connected disabled with many UA tests showing positive for MJ.
        Google it. True information.

  • mf2112

    I guess all of the chickenhawks who voted to block this were too craven and cowardly to say something about it publicly.

  • ALAN GANN

    WE NEED ACCESS TO THE WHOLE PLANT SO WE CAN LIVE WHOLE LIVES!! ALL WE WANT IS TO LIVE AND NOT SUFFER DOING IT!! EVEN THE CORRUPT POLITICIANS AND THEIR RICH BRIBERS KNOW CANNABIS HELPS BUT THEIR GREED AND CORRUPTION JUST WILL NOT LET THEM HELP US!! WE CAN FIGHT AND EVEN DIE FOR OUR COUNTRY BUT OUR COUNTRY CAN NOT EVEN GIVE US THE REAL HELP WE NEED BECAUSE OF THE GREED AND CORRUPTION OF THOSE POLITICIANS!! #MakeCannabisLegal #ResistTheGreedAndCorruption

  • stewdad11

    So stupid! The people who need it the most can’t legally get it! It’s WAY overdue for the veterans to have access to Cannabis!

  • Eric Pine

    Soon, the voter’s voices will be heard… and at that time, we will no longer be counting on our congress, who cannot MAKE a decent decision, to decide this issue. Be sure you’re registered to vote, it’s happening.