Congress Should End Medical Marijuana Gag Order On V.A. Doctors

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  As soon as this afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on the FY2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which sets the budget for the Veterans Administration (V.A.). Representatives Blumenauer (D-OR), Heck (R-NV), Gibbard (D-HI), Reed (R-NY), Lee (D-CA), Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Titus (D-NV) will be re-introducing the Veterans Equal Access Amendment (VEAA), which would lift the gag.

Under V.H.A. Directive 2011-004, V.A. physicians are explicitly forbidden from being able to fill out recommendation forms or even offer their medical opinion about whether a veteran patient might benefit from participating in a state medical marijuana program. This means that veterans who are dependent on the V.A. for their health care are denied equal access to state medical marijuana programs.  This means that veterans must go out of pocket and establish a patient-doctor relationship with a new physician, something that can cost hundreds of dollars or more. This is especially disturbing because veterans who are the most financially challenged are the ones who are most likely to rely on the V.A. for their health care needs.

The VEAA would forbid the V.A. from using any funds to punish physicians who write state-legal medical marijuana recommendations. In doing so, the VEAA would allow veterans to have safe and legal access to medical marijuana in states that allow its therapeutic use under the recommendation of a physician.

House Nears Vote On Ending Feds’ Medical Marijuana Crackdown

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  President Barack Obama said in December 2012 his administration had “bigger fish to fry” than legal recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington. But some members of his Department of Justice have continued to wage war on medical marijuana in states that allow it.

That would end if a bipartisan amendment to a spending bill is adopted by the House of Representatives and ultimately becomes law.

Six Republicans and six Democrats, led by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., are seeking to ban the Department of Justice – which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors – from using funds to go after medical marijuana in places where it’s allowed by state law.

Floor debate on the spending bill begins Wednesday evening. The amendment may come up for a vote late Wednesday or on Thursday.