Rep Earl Blumenhauer to Sen Mark Kirk: Where Is Your Courage?

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By Keith Mansur

Oregon Cannabis Connection

Aug 3, 2016 – Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenhauer (D-Portland) once again speaks out against ignorance and shenanigans of yet another ignorant lawmaker on cannabis law reform. On August 3rd he released a letter he penned to Republican Illinois Senator Mark Kirk. The letter chastised him for denying veterans access to medical marijuana and making ignorant remarks concerning the medical value of the plant.

The House of Representatives and the Senate both passed proposals earlier this year that would have allowed VA medical providers to complete forms allowing a qualified veteran to participate in a state medical marijuana program. Senator Kirk and other Republicans stripped the language from the final legislation, something that very rarely happens. Kirk had been a very vocal opponent of the Senate bill.

In the letter, Blumenhauer writes:

“The proposal you spoke out against was passed by both the House and Senate with bipartisan votes. It strikes this policy down to allow veterans to consult with their personal VA physician, who know their medical history best, about medical marijuana as a possible treatment option. The proposal in no way requires a VA provider to recommend medical marijuana, but rather makes a conversation on all treatment options between doctor and patient more accessible.”

He also questioned his courage, and characterized his comments on the Senate floor as “mockery”, writing in the letter, “Instead of standing up and fighting for veterans in Illinois and around the country, you, however, introduce unwelcome mockery into the debate.”

“Are you really opposed to giving doctors more options to treat our nation’s veterans?” he added. “ Where is your courage? Where is your sense of moral obligation to help those who served to protect us?”

As we like to say…we love us some Earl here in Oregon!

 

An Open Letter to Senator Kirk: Show Respect and Compassion for Our Veterans

Dear Senator Kirk:

“I don’t think we have too few high veterans out there.”

These were your words about my proposal making it easier for qualified veterans to access state-legal medical marijuana programs.

Our veterans are returning home with injuries that are both visible and unseen—experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries, chronic pain, and more. These wounded warriors should be treated with dignity, respect, and concern, and we should be helping them access the care they need. It is simply unconscionable that instead, you disparage them as drug addicts. Your statement is not only inappropriate, but dismissive of the serious issues faced by our veterans.

We are in crisis mode as opioid addiction and abuse are on the rise, and the risk is higher for veterans, who are frequently prescribed opioids. Of the nearly 1 million veterans who receive opioid treatment for pain, over half continue to consume those pills beyond 90 days. They are dying of opiate overdoses at nearly double the national average.

In many cases, medical marijuana can be a safer, more effective alternative to these highly addictive prescription opioids in treating certain conditions. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), however, prohibits its medical providers from completing forms allowing a qualified veteran to participate in a state medical marijuana program. This outdated and out of touch policy is forcing our veterans outside of the VA system to seek a recommendation for medical marijuana as a possible treatment option in states where it is legal, like Illinois.

The proposal you spoke out against was passed by both the House and Senate with bipartisan votes. It strikes this policy down to allow veterans to consult with their personal VA physician, who know their medical history best, about medical marijuana as a possible treatment option. The proposal in no way requires a VA provider to recommend medical marijuana, but rather makes a conversation on all treatment options between doctor and patient more accessible.

Instead of standing up and fighting for veterans in Illinois and around the country, you, however, introduce unwelcome mockery into the debate. Are you really opposed to giving doctors more options to treat our nation’s veterans? Where is your courage? Where is your sense of moral obligation to help those who served to protect us?

I implore you to show compassion, change course, and support this bipartisan effort.

Sincerely,

Earl Blumenauer, Member of Congress

 

Keith Mansur

Keith Mansur is the founder, publisher, and editor of Oregon Cannabis Connection newspaper. The print publication has been serving Oregon since 2010. He has been a Oregon medical marijuana patient, grower, and caregiver since 2006. Find him on Facebook or email him at occnewspaper420@gmail.com

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