House Passes Blumenauer Amendment to Remove Restrictions Preventing VA Doctors from Recommending Medical Marijuana

May 19, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill led by Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) to make it easier for qualified veterans to access state-legal medical marijuana. The amendment had bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by Representatives Joe Heck (R-NV), Sam Farr (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Tom Reed (R-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Jared Polis (D-CO). It passed by 233-189.

“One of the greatest tragedies of our time is our failure to adequately deal with the needs of our veterans returning home with wounds both visible and unseen. Giving them access to medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option to deal with chronic pain, PTSD, and other conditions is critical at a time when our veterans are dying with a suicide rate 50 percent higher than civilians and opiate overdoses at nearly double the national average. Medical marijuana can be a safer, more effective alternative,” said Representative Blumenauer. “I commend my colleagues for showing compassion and supporting our wounded warriors. Today’s vote is a win for these men and women who have done so much for us and deserve equal treatment in being able to consult with, and seek a recommendation from, their personal VA physician about medical marijuana.”

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms allowing a qualified veteran to participate in a state medical marijuana program. This forces veterans out of the VA system to seek a simple recommendation for treatment for eligible conditions under state laws. Representative Blumenauer’s amendment ensures that no funds made available to the VA can be used to implement this prohibition, which would, in effect, strike it down.

“This is an historic moment and further proof there is real movement and bipartisan support in reforming outdated federal marijuana policies,” said Representative Blumenauer. “There is more to be done, and I will build on today’s momentum and continue my efforts in catching federal policy up to reflect the views held by a majority of Americans.”

In April, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed a similar amendment to the Senate version of the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The Senate and House bills will need to be reconciled and passed by both chambers to become law.

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