Rep. Blumenauer on Narrow Defeat of the Equal Access Amendment

May 2, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC– Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) released the following statement on last night’s narrow defeat of his Equal Access Amendment to the FY 2016 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which would make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical marijuana.

“Last night, the House of Representatives narrowly defeated my proposal, which would have allowed veterans to consult with VA doctors about medical marijuana in states where medical marijuana is legal. While the defeat was frustrating, it demonstrated support in the first vote on marijuana policy in this Congress.

“We were able to make the case publicly to members and their staff about the inequity of a situation where 213 million Americans live in states where they have access to medical marijuana, yet veterans are denied the ability to be helped by their VA primary care provider. Forcing them, at their own expense and trouble, to find somebody else who doesn’t have the same doctor-patient relationship with them for their medical needs is not only not fair, but it’s not best medical practice.

“While opponents provided false information that medical marijuana has no therapeutic value, we were able to drive home the point that the current system, which denies veterans medical marijuana but overprescribes them highly addictive and dangerous opioids, is the real scandal.

“These arguments carried the day for 210 of my colleagues, which was 15 more than last year, even with eight members absent and not voting, several of whom are sympathetic to the bill. There were 13 more Republicans this year voting yes, and there were 10 fewer Democrats voting no.

“All in all, this is an extraordinarily strong showing. This year’s much closer vote signals that we are in an excellent position to be able to pass simple, commonsense legislation to deal with the realities of the legal business of marijuana across the country – including legislation to allow state-legal marijuana businesses to deduct business expenses and to no longer have to operate on a cash-only basis.”

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