House Rules Committee Set to Decide Fate of Veterans Equal Access Amendment
July 24, 2017
Lately, it seems like scientific researchers are finding new medical uses for cannabis every other week. Last week it was Parkinson’s disease, prior to that Alzheimer’s, and we all know how effective it can be treating epilepsy in children or PTSD. Yet, despite all the positive news and progress, one group has been left in legal purgatory, caught between state and federal rule, and they’re likely in the most need of the relief found through cannabis; Veterans.
However, that might change today as the House Rules Committee will meet to determine the fate of the Veterans Equal Access amendment.
The amendment, written by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, would allow Veterans Affairs physicians to discuss and recommend medical cannabis in states where it is legal. Currently, federal law prohibits VA doctors from speaking to Veterans about cannabis. This will be the 4th time that Blumenauer has sought to pass the amendment, previous attempts in 2014 and 2015 failed in the House. In 2016, after passing 233-198 in the House and 89-8, the amendment was unfortunately removed from the final appropriations bill. This year, Blumenauer is optimistic that they’ll continue where they left off. “Our hope is that the Rules Committee will take note of the overwhelming bipartisan support for this amendment, show compassion for our veterans, and give us a vote” said Blumenauer in an emailed statement.
In addition to congressional action, public support for Veterans access to cannabis has been garnering more attention across the country. The American Legion, one of the nation’s most powerful Veteran organizations, has been advocating access to medical cannabis for months. In a May letter to the White House they stated “The American Legion respectfully requests a meeting with President Trump as soon as possible and looks forward to partnering with this administration in the fight against narcotics addiction and reducing the veteran suicide rate from the tragic loss of 20 warriors per day, to zero.”
It’s not just the American Legion though; many other Veteran groups are mobilizing locally and hosting rallies to raise awareness. From Olympia, Washington to Miami, Florida, organizations like Weed for Warriors Project, Twenty22Many, New England Veterans Alliance, and Grow4Vets have hosted events geared at promoting equal access to proven treatments. Last weekend, BioTrackTHC representatives attended a Twenty22Many – Olympia March to show support for safe access to medical cannabis. “Just seeing the number of veterans and individuals showing up to support the cause is evidence enough that something needs to be done, said Ashley Heddy of BioTrackTHC. “When you have national organizations advocating for veteran access, it only becomes a matter of when, not if, this will happen.”
Today’s meeting could be the first step in helping thousands of Veterans find peace outside of prescriptions. If it’s not, millions of citizens’ stand prepared to speak up, act out, and continue fighting for those who fought for us.
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