Doctors at Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals are not allowed to talk about medical marijuana with patients. A bill was introduced that would have lifted that ban. The bill came up for a vote this week, and sadly, it was defeated by just three votes. Below are reactions from Tom Angell from the Marijuana Majority and United States Representative Earl Blumenauer:
"While it's disappointing that the House just voted to continue a senseless rules that prevents doctors from treating military veterans with a medicine proven to work for a number of serious conditions, the fact that we came so close is a good sign of things to come. It is no longer considered politically risky for elected officials to work on scaling back the failed federal war on marijuana, as the 210 'yea' votes we just saw demonstrates. This is just the first in what will be a series of important marijuana votes in Congress this year, and we expect to win more than we lose, just like we did last year." said Tom Angell.
And a press release from Earl Blumenauer:
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."