The co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus issued a joint statement criticizing the inaction of the House Rules Committee that rejected amendments to the bipartisan spending bill intended to promote veterans’ access to medical cannabis.
“We have the responsibility to provide our veterans with the care and treatments they need to overcome the wounds of war,” wrote Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Brian Mast (R-FL).
“Our outdated federal cannabis laws are interfering with our ability to fulfill that responsibility,” said the statement.
The rejected measures were intended to prevent the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from enforcing its current policy of prohibiting VA doctors from recommending medical cannabis to veterans, as well as reversing a directive for the department to ban covering the costs of medical cannabis.
“Unfortunately, despite the strong, bipartisan support behind increased medical cannabis access for our veterans, Congress is allowing that interference to fester,” the bipartisan lawmakers added.
“We will not rest until Congress has addressed the perverse impact that failed federal prohibition is having on our nation’s heroes and their health.”
Ultimately, the House Rules Committee refused to consider these bipartisan amendments, while some members argued that the reform proposal was unrelated to the appropriations process.
The Safe Harbor Act and the Veterans Equal Access Act were two separate bills sponsored by the Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chairs. Last week, an amendment did pass the House as part of a defense bill that would tackle the issue of allowing VA doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations to veterans, reported Marijuana Moment.
Recently, bipartisan lawmakers introduced amendments to promote medical access for veterans and provide protections for public housing residents from being evicted for cannabis charges.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), with co-sponsorship from Blumenauer and Lee, filed the above amendments to prevent the use of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds to enforce the federal prohibition on medical and recreational cannabis use or possession in federally assisted public housing. However, they decided to retire the amendments because they still needed to “build the necessary support” for the reform.
“We think we can build it, but we haven’t gotten that yet,” Norton said. “Cannabis is still controversial on Capitol Hill and the president still has misgivings about the issue.”