While there was some hope that Congressional lawmakers would offer some sympathy this year with respect to U.S. military veterans and the use of medical marijuana, the outcome of the latest federal spending scheme indicates that Uncle Sam is still not willing to accept that his soldiers need weed.
Last Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate put their seal of approval on a federal spending package intended to keep the federal government in business until the first week of December. But despite the outpouring of support in both chambers this year for an amendment seeking to provide veterans with access to medical marijuana, the proposal was ultimately left out of the final budget signed on Thursday by President Obama.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer, the lawmaker responsible for bringing the Veterans Equal Access provision to the table, is somewhat perplexed by the series of events that led to it not being included in the budget. After all, the measure was approved earlier this year by the House and then again by the Senate. For any other measure, Congressional approval of this magnitude would have been enough to consider the passing of this amendment a sure thing, but a backroom conference committee ended up cutting its throat when no one was looking.
“It’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing that despite broad bipartisan, bicameral support, a handful of out-of-touch lawmakers put politics over the well-being of America’s wounded warriors. Our veterans deserve better,” Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer said in a statement. “We will continue to seek every opportunity to make sure they have fair and equal treatment and the ability to consult with, and seek a recommendation from, their personal VA physician about medical marijuana.”
Although medical marijuana is legal in over half the nation, veterans living in these areas who suffer from conditions ranging from chronic pain to PTSD are getting the run around when it comes to the ability to participate. The Veterans Administration has all but refused to adjust its policy on the subject and finally allow the physicians under its employ to discuss cannabis medicine as a part of a patient’s overall treatment. Meanwhile, the VA continues to dump dangerous prescription drugs down the throats of these soldiers, putting them at a high risk for addiction and overdose death.
There is still a possibility the amendment could be picked up for the Fiscal Year 2017 spending plan, but considering the congressional sideshow that has taken place over the past year with respect to the measure, we’re not holding our breath.