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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Statement from Representative Blumenauer on the Vote to Allow Veterans Greater Access to Medical Marijuana

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–May 1, 2014. 

On Wednesday, the House sadly voted 222-195 to deny veterans the opportunity to discuss medical marijuana with physicians at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), even in the 21 states and the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal.

But, there was a silver lining.

There was a spirited and very strong floor debate in support of the amendment. The move towards making marijuana reform less of a partisan issue was underscored as there were more Republicans voting for the amendment (22) than Democrats voting against (18). And, with probable votes of members who were absent, it’s very likely the vote total in favor or my amendment would’ve been 200 or more.

I was pleased with the bipartisan support in the debate, the bipartisan support on the floor, and the growing realization that our veterans have the right to be advised by their VA doctor about what is in their best interests, whether that be advice for or against the use of medical marijuana. Still, it’s inexplicable and inexcusable that VA doctors can’t answer their patients’ questions and give their best advice. The amendment would not have allowed VA doctors to prescribe or provide medical marijuana, but would’ve allowed them to have the open discussions that are so important in providing quality healthcare to our veterans.

We will continue to fight to make sure that our veterans are not treated as second class patients among the more than hundred million Americans who are legally able to seek medical marijuana therapy under state law, while at the same time promoting a broader understanding among the public and my colleagues of the broader issue.

This is another important step in reforming our federal marijuana laws. Last year’s successful amendment to the farm Bill to expand research on industrial hemp and our agricultural institutions was a strong and significant accomplishment. We continue to encourage the Administration to refine its position, making federal policy less onerous, inconsistent, and burdensome.

Of course, with each passing week there is more movement around the country as citizens and people at the state and local level continue to march past the federal government. It’s only a matter of time before federal policies catch up. The fourteen marijuana reform bills already introduced in the House are illustrative of this progress.

Perhaps the most powerful moment of the evening for me came as I was leaving the floor after the debate. A House employee shared a story with me about how their brother needed medical marijuana to keep up his appetite and strength in the fight against severe illness, but lived in a state where medical marijuana was illegal. He was forced to buy it on the street as a last option, but it gave him the strength to beat the disease. He was lucky, but survival should not depend on luck.

We cannot afford anymore stories like this, and I will fight through any means possible to make sure that no one has to go without the medicine they need to survive because of failed, unreasonable federal drug policy.

Source: http://blumenauer.house.gov


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