Despite increasing support for U.S. military veterans to have the right to use medical marijuana as an alternative to prescription drugs, Congressional forces, specifically House Republicans, do not appear too keen on allowing any such reform to take shape.
On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee took a stand against an amendment that would have allowed medical marijuana access for veterans under the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. This rejection ensures that the full House will not have an opportunity to so much as consider the rider later this week.
The amendment, which was sponsored by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, would have given doctors employed with the Department of Veterans Affairs the freedom to write medical marijuana recommendations in states where it is legal.
Last year, the House had no trouble putting its stamp of approval on the measure, which has Blumenauer somewhat perplexed as to why the Rules Committee would side with sabotage this time around.
“All we want is equal treatment for our wounded warriors. This provision overwhelmingly passed on the House floor last year – and bipartisan support has only grown,” Blumenauer said in a statement. “It’s outrageous that the Rules Committee won’t even allow a vote for our veterans. They deserve better. They deserve compassion.
“Given that veterans are more likely to commit suicide or die from opiate overdoses than civilians, our fight to provide them safer alternatives won’t stop here,” he added. “We have stronger support in the House and Senate than ever before, and we will keep advocating for a more rational approach.”
It was just last week that Senate Appropriations Committee voted in support of a similar measure. If only the House would have given the rider a chance for a vote, there is a distinct possibility that VA doctors could have started writing medical marijuana recomendations sometime next year. Unfortunately, while not all hope is gone, it is highly unlikely that the rider will have another opportunity to be attached to the final appropriations bill.
The only way that could happen is if a conference committee would happen to create a single amendment out of the House and Senate proposals. Yet, this is mostly wishful thinking, since it was the conference committee that secretly eliminated the measure from the final bill last year.
Lawmakers have vowed to keep pushing this issue on the Hill.