V.A. Doctor Recommendations Still Have A Chance
By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connections
June 30, 2016 – What was thought to be a dead provision to let Veterans Affairs doctors recommend medical marijuana where it is legal has been given possible new life.
The provision, which was adopted in the House by an amendment introduced by Earl Blumenauer, was stripped from the final version by the conference committee just before the House approved the legislation by a vote of 239 to 171.
But, due to a procedural snafu, there is a second chance to have it included in the final bill.
“The failure in the Senate to pass a procedural vote over a dispute involving funding to fight the Zika virus means the bill can be reconsidered after the Independence Day break,” reported militarytimes.com. “Supporters of the medical marijuana provision hope they can get the measure, which would have allowed VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states where it is legal, returned to and passed in the final bill.”
Tuesdays Zika stall has allowed for a reconsideration of the final bill, and supporters hope they can get the provision returned to the bill, as had been approved in both chambers. A number of Congressional heavy hitters from medical marijuana states joined with the usual suspects like Rep Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).
“The Conferees failed to include a provision passed by bipartisan votes in the House and Senate that would allow VA doctors to discuss medical marijuana and make recommendations regarding its use in states where it is legal,” a letter dated June 28th to Congressional leadership stated.“We strongly believe the inclusion of either the House or Senate language in the final text should have been nonnegotiable.”
The letter was from U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) and Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, who were joined by 9 other Congressmen. Notable leaders included both Oregon Senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkeley, along with Sen. Kirsten Gilldibrand (D-NY), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ).
“We feel the failure of the Conferees to include either provision is a drastic misfortune for veterans and is contrary to the will of both chambers as demonstrated by the strong bipartisan support for these provisions,” the letter closes. “We urge you to act to ensure one of these provisions is included in any final funding bill sent to the President.”
So far, the House Appropriations Committee has not revealed who on the conference committee was responsible for removing the marijuana pr
ovision, which was one of a number of missing items in the bill. Another one of the provisions was one that banned flying the confederate flag at national cemeteries.
Five of the eight panel membeers house members on the committee voted against Blumenauer’s amendment, including Republicans Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Charles Dent of Pennsylvania, Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Martha Roby of Alabama and David Valadao of California.
Dent said medical experts and the Food and Drug Administration should weigh in on the matter during congressional debates in May.
“I’m uncomfortable in trying to dictate policy on medical marijuana without input from the FDA and National Institutes of Health,” Dent said.