Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) withdrew an modification on Friday that may have allowed U.S. Division of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical doctors to advocate medical marijuana to sufferers in states the place it’s authorized.
The congressman, whose separate measure blocking the Justice Division from intervening in state-legal cannabis actions handed on the Home flooring on Thursday, informed Marijuana Second in a telephone interview that VA “blindsided” lawmakers by arguing for the primary time that their physicians “would have been professionally liable” in the event that they issued medical cannabis suggestions.
“This can be a new wrinkle from the VA,” he mentioned. “If we’d identified, I’m completely satisfied we may have” handed the measure.
.@repblumenauer (D), OR Amd’t #198 was withdrawn https://t.co/56gJJv2JNP
— Home Press Gallery (@HouseDailyPress) June 21, 2019
“I’ve been working on this Congress to increase [medical cannabis access] to our veterans who, if something, want medical marijuana greater than some other class of our residents,” Blumenauer mentioned in a speech on the Home flooring simply earlier than pulling the modification. “We misplaced 7,000 folks to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, however we’ve misplaced 100,000 of these veterans to suicides and opioid overdoses. The VA, I’m afraid, has not been as useful accurately.”
He cited excessive charges of opioid prescriptions and overdose deaths amongst veterans as one motive he’s “repeatedly superior this modification.”
In 2016, variations of the measure cleared each the Home and Senate however the language “stripped out by the Republican management,” he mentioned.
“An illustration of how far we’ve got advanced: the Home management that stripped this provision out was headed by [Speaker John Boehner], who’s now a spokesperson for the cannabis trade, having described that he’s advanced on this situation and thinks it’s a good suggestion,” Blumenauer mentioned. “We haven’t advanced on this Congress in offering protections for the VA.”
This time round, VA itself stood in opposition to the measure.
“Although this modification has handed repeatedly, swiftly the VA has determined, properly, they’d be placing their medical doctors in danger,” he mentioned. “By no means got here up earlier than. If we’d identified about it, we may work it round. I believe we are able to and will work to repair this.”
The particular concern, apparently, is that VA medical doctors may doubtlessly be prosecuted for aiding and abetting violations of the Managed Substances Act by filling out varieties on federal property to assist veterans get hold of cannabis, which remains to be a Schedule I drug. Blumenauer had filed a separate modification on the difficulty blocking the Justice Division from punishing VA physicians for that exercise, but in addition withdrew that measure earlier within the week previous to Guidelines Committee consideration as a result of it might have been dominated not so as.
There are “limitations by way of the Guidelines Committee pushing issues which are really stretching what we are able to do beneath the principles” of the Home, Blumenauer informed Marijuana Second in an earlier interview.
The congressman additionally cited “some procedural roadblocks, amongst others, thrown up by some members of the Appropriations Committee.”
“We labored very exhausting to see if we may resolve them within the time that we had, however sadly we couldn’t,” he mentioned.
Advocates have identified that federal courts have already decided that medical doctors who merely advocate medical cannabis to their sufferers are protected beneath the First Modification, however VA’s issues brought on uncertainty amongst lawmakers as as to whether that safety extends to federally employed physicians. And people questions may have jeopardized the modification’s passage on the ground.
“After the momentum of this week between Home hearings on cannabis small enterprise entry to capital, a [House Veterans’ Affairs Committee] listening to on medical cannabis analysis, and a historic victory within the Home with the Blumenauer CJS modification, it’s extremely irritating to see the Congressman withdraw an modification that would supply medical cannabis entry to veterans,” David Mangone, director of presidency affairs at People for Secure Entry, informed Marijuana Second.
“The VA’s final minute sabotage of this modification creates an unexpected hurdle that would have simply been averted,” he mentioned. “As a substitute of developing with watered-down excuses, the VA ought to be working with Congress to create a functioning framework to get medical cannabis to our veterans.”
It’s not simply Blumenauer’s measure that VA is resisting. A division consultant testified in opposition to 4 items of laws centered on cannabis and veterans that had been mentioned throughout a congressional committee listening to on Thursday, together with Blumenauer’s standalone invoice to perform the identical goal as his appropriations modification.
The official informed the panel that VA can be in opposition to laws that may require the the division to conduct medical trials on the therapeutic advantages of marijuana for circumstances resembling post-traumatic stress dysfunction and power ache, a invoice that to mandate a survey of veterans on their cannabis use and a proposal to require coaching on medical cannabis for VA well being practitioners.
All that mentioned, it’s potential that if the congressman would have moved forward along with his modification and VA successfully made its case to defeat the measure, that would have jeopardized his associated invoice, which might completely codify the coverage versus being hooked up to an annual funding invoice that must be renewed as is the case with the modification. Contemplating how the standalone laws acquired a listening to this week and appears positioned to advance additional, a failed vote on the modification may have risked politically damaging the invoice’s prospects.
“They aren’t serving the wants of veterans,” he mentioned.
“I hope that we’ll have the ability to work collectively to repair this little quirk to be sure that VA medical doctors can do what medical doctors in every single place do in states the place medical cannabis is authorized and have the ability to work with their sufferers,” he concluded on the ground. “The VA ought to offer their sufferers, our veterans, the identical consideration to have the ability to have them have the ability to have these conversations with the medical doctors that know them greatest.”
Congress Votes To Block Feds From Imposing Marijuana Legal guidelines In Authorized States
Photograph courtesy of the Home of Representatives.