The House voted 213-210 Thursday against an amendment that would have allowed Veterans Administration doctors to discuss medical marijuana with soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. Opponents of the amendment underscored marijuana’s federally illegal status and said veterans shouldn’t be prescribed pot for psychological problems.
"Why in the world would we give a drug that is addictive, that is prohibited under Schedule I, that is not accepted for any specific mental disease or disorder and enhances psychosis and schizophrenia,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-La., according the Hill. “Why are we going to give that to our veterans, especially those with PTSD? That is just absolutely insane.”
The amendment, part of a budget bill funding the Department of Veterans Affairs, was proposed by Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer. It would have removed restrictions on government doctors discussing the drug with soldiers living in states where medical marijuana is legal. It would not, however, have allowed VA doctors to prescribe medical pot.
Blumenauer argued that many veterans are prescribed painkillers that can lead to addiction and overdose, but that “nobody dies from an overdose of marijuana.” The fatal overdose rate among veterans since the 9/11 terrorist attacks is nearly double the national average, according to a report from 2013.
Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Several other states are considering legalizing the drug this year. "The medical marijuana train has left the station," Blumenauer said this week on the House floor. "A million Americans have a legal right to use medical marijuana and do so. You want to treat veterans differently."
Blumenauer had attempted to get the same amendment passed last year, but was unsuccessful.