Chance for military vets to receive federal medical marijuana support yanked

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A medical marijuana funding bill has military provision removed by Congress

Military veterans were close to being given approval by Congress to legally receive medical marijuana relief. Those hopes were dashed, however, when a funding bill for medical marijuana saw the removal of a provision that would have granted doctors at Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals authorization to prescribe marijuana.

The VA hospitals funding bill had previously been approved by the Senate by a vote of 85 to 5 in June. In it, a provision stipulated that the hospitals could not spend money to enforce its own internal policies that prohibit medical marijuana. In other words, it would have given doctors and patients the right to legally obtain medical marijuana in states where it is legal with no repercussions.

House Republican leaders prevented the bill from being considered for voting. This led the way for a bicameral panel to merge several proposals into a single bill that would subsequently be sent to the president for his signature. However, the panel decided yesterday not to include the cannabis provision in the final draft, which was released yesterday.

Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer was obviously dismayed over the decision. He said, “Denying veterans the care they need by the doctors they trust is shameful. The Senate passed this amendment. It has broad bipartisan support in the House. This should have been a no-brainer. Yet, Republican leadership has once again stymied progress toward fair and equal treatment for our veterans. Their continued neglect of common sense and the will of the American people is a disgrace.”

The death of the provision is another blow to military veterans. According to NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) Executive Director Erik Altieri, “This move by congressional leadership is egregious and constitutes a slap in the face to the heroes who put their lives on the line to defend our country. Continuing to treat veterans who risked it all as criminals when they opt to utilize a safe and effective treatment option like cannabis is immoral and un-American.”

There is no word on what the next steps will be to try and receive federal approval of medical marijuana for military vets.