View attachment 44038 Last week, the Republicans flexed their muscle when it comes to marijuana. The Equal Access Amendment to the Veterans Appropriations bill that would have made it easier for veterans to get medical marijuana was defeated on April 29 by a vote of 210-213. The pro-medical marijuana amendment was killed along party lines in the House of Representatives.
Rep. John Fleming a Republican from Louisiana said during the House Session, “Smoking pot increases the psychotic episodes by a factor of two to four times normal. The conversion to schizophrenia, a permanent mental disorder is enhanced by pot by a factor of two.” Fleming went on to say that pot is not accepted for any specific medical disease or disorder and that is was “insane” to give it to veterans with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Apparently unaware that the FDA has been granting pharmaceutical companies approvals to study various forms of cannabis as a drug treatment and the U.S. Patent Office has been approving patents for strains of cannabis as drug treatments.
Rep. Earl Blumenhauer, the sponsor of the bill was frustrated saying, “Last night, The House of Representatives narrowly defeated my proposal, which would have allowed veterans to consult with VA doctors about medical marijuana in states where medical marijuana is legal. While the defeat was frustrating, it demonstrated support in the first vote on marijuana policy in this Congress.” There are many bills addressing marijuana in Congress, but most have languished and few have come to a vote.
Blumenhauer went on to say, “While opponents provided false information that medical marijuana has no therapeutic value, we were able to drive home the point that the current system, which denies veterans medical marijuana but over prescribes them highly addictive and dangerous opioids, is the real scandal.”
Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project said, “House Republicans just can’t help putting themselves on the wrong side of polling, history and compassion for our troops. For a group of legislators who consistently insist on ‘getting government out of doctor-patient relationship,’ tonight’s vote is a case study in hypocrisy.”
Although Fleming sounded as if he were quoting from the movie Reefer Madness, most of the Congressmen that were opposed simply pointed back at the DEA’s position on the classification of marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. Republican Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said the DEA had advised VA doctors against endorsing or prescribing medical marijuana.
However, the opposition continues to lose strength because the last time the amendment came up for a vote it was 195-222. “These arguments carried the day for 210 of my colleagues, which was 15 more than last year, even with eight members absent and not voting, several of whom are sympathetic to the bill. There were 13 more Republicans this year voting yes and there were 10 fewer Democrats voting no,” said Blumenhauer.
“All in all, this is an extraordinarily strong showing,” said Blumenhauer. “This year’s much closer vote signals that we are in an excellent position to be able to pass simple, common sense legislation to deal with the realities of the legal business of marijuana across the country – including legislation to allow state-legal marijuana businesses to deduct business expenses and to no longer have to operate on a cash-only basis.”
While Riffle also acknowledged the uptick in support he said, “Mountains of medical evidence demonstrate marijuana’s safety and efficacy in treating PTSD, chronic pain, and other conditions that affect out veterans. We owe it to them to make every medical treatment option available. Instead, they’ll have to get by on lip service and outdated war on drugs rhetoric from House Republicans.”
By Debra Borshardt - Forbes/May 4, 2015