house of representatives

U.S.: Veterans Group Weed For Warriors Praises House Passage of VA Marijuana Measure

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Decorated disabled Iraq War veteran Brandon Wyatt on Thursday applauded Congress for passing a measure today that will help veterans in states where medical marijuana is legal get the medicine they need to fight their battle with post traumatic stress disorder and other ailments.

“This is a significant step forward in our cause,” said Wyatt, a lawyer and activist, who staged a groundbreaking free cannabis giveaway last month outside the Veterans Administration clinic in Washington, D.C., for patients suffering from PTSD. “We appreciate the support and efforts of all involved.

"Nevertheless, the job is not finished, because this legislation does not allow all veterans to be provided with the quality healthcare they need in order to be free of the fear of having to self-medicate," Wyatt said. "Easier access doesn’t equate to equal access.”

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, (D-Oregon), only applies to states where cannabis is legal; it doesn't allow for the distribution or use of cannabis at VA clinics or any federal facilities; and it doesn't allow for the VA to cover the costs.

U.S.: House Removes Restrictions Preventing Veterans Access To Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed an amendment to the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill led by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon to make it easier for qualified veterans to access state-legal medical marijuana.

The amendment had bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by Representatives Joe Heck (R-NV), Sam Farr (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Tom Reed (R-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Jared Polis (D-CO). It passed by 233-189.

“One of the greatest tragedies of our time is our failure to adequately deal with the needs of our veterans returning home with wounds both visible and unseen," Representative Blumenauer said. "Giving them access to medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option to deal with chronic pain, PTSD, and other conditions is critical at a time when our veterans are dying with a suicide rate 50 percent higher than civilians and opiate overdoses at nearly double the national average.

U.S.: Blumenauer To Offer Veterans Equal Access Amendment For Medical Marijuana

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Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon this week will offer an amendment to make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical marijuana, when the U.S. House of Representatives considers the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran’s participation in a state medical marijuana program. This forces veterans out of the VA system to seek a simple recommendation for treatment for eligible conditions as granted to them by state laws.

Rep. Blumenauer’s amendment ensures that no funds made available to the VA can be used to implement this prohibition, which would, in effect, strike it down.

“It’s wrong and unfair to force our veterans outside of the VA system to simply seek a recommendation on whether or not medical marijuana is a good treatment option," said Congressman Blumenauer. "And, our VA physicians should not be denied the ability to offer such a recommendation if they think it may meet the needs of their patient.”

U.S.: Blumenauer, Conyers Call For Public Health Approach To Drug Policy

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Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and John Conyers (MI-13) on Thursday led 12 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives in sending a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to highlight the importance of a less punitive and more public health-centered approach to international drug policy at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in April.

From states taking action to end the failed prohibition of marijuana to lifting the ban on federal funding for syringe access programs proven to reduce HIV infection rates, the United States has made significant advancements moving away from a punitive approach to drug policy to one centered on public health and healthcare, access to treatment services, and harm reduction tools that reduce overdose. The upcoming UNGASS provides an opportunity for the United States to showcase these advancements as a model for international drug policy.

U.S.: Congressman Blumenauer Says Medical Marijuana Could Solve Opioid Epidemic

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U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) on the House floor Wednesday, addressed the serious opioid abuse epidemic across America, highlighting medical marijuana as an alternative to highly addictive prescription opioids in treating chronic pain.

In his remarks, Congressman Blumenauer called for further reforms to our medical marijuana laws, including making sure our Veterans – who are frequently prescribed opioids – are able to discuss medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option with their Veterans Administration providers in states where it is legal.

Rep. Blumenauer on Feb. 3 reintroduced H.R. 667, the Veterans Equal Access Act, to address this and will once again offer it as an amendment during consideration of the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill this year.

“Last night, ‘Frontline’ on PBS had a compelling documentary on the opioid and heroin epidemic," Rep. Blumenauer said. "We’re now seeing politicians diving in – governors across the country sounding the alarm. It’s being featured by presidential candidates of both parties.

U.S.: Congressman Blumenauer Writes Open Letter To President About Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Congressman Earl Blumenauer on Tuesday wrote an open letter advocating marijuana legalization to President Obama in advance of the President's State of the Union speech.

"As you begin your last year in office, I hope there is one more step you take to bring about fundamental change — ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and removing marijuana from the list of Controlled Substances," Rep. Blumenauer wrote to the President.

The language chosen by Rep. Blumenauer is very significant, politically speaking. "Removing marijuana from the list of Controlled Substances" is, of course, the only way forward that avoids cannabis being immediately co-opted and controlled by Big Pharma, which is assuredly what will happen if it is moved from Schedule I to Schedule II or III on the Uniformed Controlled Substances Act.

Following is Rep. Blumenauer's letter in its entirety.

An Open Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President:

A State of the Union speech is a unique opportunity to address Congress and the nation about priorities and accomplishments, as well as to highlight critical issues.

I remember another speech in May 2008 when you spoke to over 70,000 Portlanders. The overwhelming feeling of hope coming from the crowd was palpable.

U.S.: Rep. Blumenauer Calls On Obama To Fire DEA Head For Medical Marijuana Comments

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, the Democratic Congressman from Oregon who's been such a friend to cannabis law reform, on Monday made another powerful statement, calling on President Obama to fire DEA head Chuck Rosenberg for calling medical marijuana "a joke."

Blumenauer made the "Decisionmaker Response" on a Change.org petition.

"There’s a revolution taking place across America to reform and modernize our marijuana laws, and no change is more profound than the treatment of medical marijuana," Congressman Blumenauer wrote. "The reforms taking place are the result of the grassroots nature of this movement – including efforts by hundreds of thousands of people like you who signed this petition.

"Over the last 20 years – despite the misguided federal prohibition of marijuana – we‘ve seen overwhelming evidence of the benefits of medical marijuana," Rep. Blumenauer wrote. "The success of marijuana in offering relief for patients dealing with symptoms associated with chemotherapy, glaucoma, PTSD, chronic pain, and more has led 23 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam to change their laws and fully legalize medical marijuana. An additional 17 states have approved more limited programs. Well over one million people now use medical marijuana in accordance with their state’s law.

U.S.: Historic Sentencing Reform Bill Unanimously Passes House Judiciary Committee

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Bipartisan Bill Reduces Mandatory Minimums, Returns Some Discretion to Judges, Makes Reductions Retroactive

Legislation Now Moves to the House Floor Amid Momentum to End the Drug War and Mass Incarceration

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted unanimously to advance the Sentencing Reform Act. The bill, introduced by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), and sponsored by 30 other Representatives, would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, expand the federal "safety valve” (which allows judges to use their discretion to sentence people below statutory mandatory minimums), and make many of the sentencing reductions retroactive.

“This vote today is a significant step toward reducing the federal prison population,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “We have a bill moving in the Senate, and now we have a companion bill moving in the House, so I’m optimistic we’ll have legislation on the President’s desk in a matter of months.”

The vote comes a few weeks after Senate Judiciary Committee advanced its sentencing reform bill by a 15-5 vote. The Senate bill includes provisions around reentry and recidivism, which the House is expected to address in a separate bill.

D.C.: Drug Policy Alliance To Host Lobby Day On Capitol Hill To End The War On Drugs

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More than 200 Attendees Will Meet with Lawmakers and Lunch with Members of Congress Who Have Championed Drug Law Reform in Congress

DPA-Led Constituent Lobby Day Occurs Just Hours before the Start of the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, VA

The Drug Policy Alliance is hosting a Federal Lobby Day on Wednesday, November 18 that is expected to bring more than 200 people from nearly 25 U.S. states and 15 countries to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would roll back some of the worst excesses of the failed War On Drugs.

The lobby day comes as numerous reform proposals gain momentum in Congress, including sentencing reform, marijuana law reform, and overdose prevention.

“Members of Congress are under a lot of pressure to reform punitive and ineffective drug policies and we’re turning the heat up,” said Bill Piper, senior director of national affairs of the Drug Policy Alliance. (DPA). “Our supporters will talk about what they’re doing in their community to reduce the harms associated with both drugs and the war on drugs.”

Lobby day participants will meet with lawmakers in roughly 70 meetings over the course of the day and attend a special luncheon with five members of Congress who have championed legislative efforts to reform federal marijuana and other drug laws. This historic constituent lobby day comes on the same day that House lawmakers are expected to vote on whether to advance major drug sentencing reform legislation.

U.S.: House Narrowly Defeats Increasing Veterans' Access To Medical Marijuana

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted 213-210 to defeat an amendment to increase military veterans' access to medical marijuana.

The appropriations amendment, offered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors, would have prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from spending money to enforce a prohibition on V.A. doctors filling out medical marijuana recommendation forms in states where the drug is legal.

"While there is no single approach to aiding our nation's veterans, medical marijuana is proven to help in treating post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries frequently suffered by veterans," Blumenauer said. "States are listening to their residents on the benefits of medical marijuana, including veterans, and are changing their laws.

"It is unacceptable for our wounded warriors to be forced out of the VA system to simply seek a recommendation on whether or not medical marijuana is a good treatment option," Congressman Blumenauer said.

But weed-phobic throwbacks to the bad old days of the 20th Century stood in the way. "So, why in the world we we give a drug that is addictive, that is prohibited as a Schedule I, that is not accepted for any medical disease or disorder, and enhances psychosis and schizophrenia?" asked Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana), who, excuse my saying so, is clearly a moron.

U.S.: House Voting On Amendment Allowing VA Doctors To Discuss Medical Marijuana

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36 States Allow Use of Some Form of Marijuana for Medical Reasons, but VA Doctors Prohibited from Recommending Medical Marijuana to Patients

Amendment Comes as Support for Medical Marijuana Increases in Congress

As early as this Wednesday afternoon the U.S. House could vote on an amendment that would allow doctors that work for the Veterans Administration to discuss medical marijuana and recommend its use in states where it is legal.

The bipartisan amendment is being offered by Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Heck (R-NV), Farr (D-CA), Rohrabacher (R-CA), Reed (R-NY), Titus (D-NV), Gabbard (D-HI), Lee (D-CA) and Gallego (D-AZ).

“Veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor and use it if it’s medically necessary,” said Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “They have served this country valiantly, so the least we can do is allow them to have full and open discussions with their doctors.”

A similar amendment narrowly failed on the House floor last year, 195 to 222. The House subsequently went on to vote five times in favor of letting states set their own marijuana policies.

One of the amendments, prohibiting the Justice Department from spending any money in Fiscal Year 2015 undermining state medical marijuana laws, made it into the final spending bill signed into law by President Obama. Advocates of the veterans amendment believe it has a very good chance of passing this year.

U.S.: Blumenauer To Offer Amendment To Remove Restrictions Preventing VA From Recommending Marijuana

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When the U.S. House of Representatives this week is expected to consider the FY 2016 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon plans to offer an amendment to make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical marijuana.

Currently, the Veterans Administration (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a Veteran’s participation in a state medical marijuana program. Congressman Blumenauer’s amendment ensures that no funds made available to the VA can be used to implement this prohibition, which would, in effect, strike it down.

The amendment is currently co-sponsored by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

“While there is no single approach to aiding our nation’s veterans, medical marijuana is proven to help in treating post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries frequently suffered by veterans,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “States are listening to their residents on the benefits of medical marijuana, including veterans, and are changing their laws.

U.S.: Rep. Blumenauer Reintroduces Bill To Expand Medical Marijuana Access For Veterans

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Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), along with eight bipartisan cosponsors, on Tuesday introduced the Veterans Equal Access Act to make it easier for qualified veterans to access medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding participation in a state medical marijuana program. The Act would authorize VA physicians and other health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions regarding the use of medical marijuana to veterans who live in medical marijuana states.

“Post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury can be more damaging and harmful than injuries that are visible from the outside,” Rep. Blumenauer said. “And they can have a devastating effect on a veteran’s family.

"We should be allowing these wounded veterans access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana -- not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows. It’s shameful,” he said.

Approximately 20 percent of the 2.8 million American veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTS and Depression. In addition, a recent study found that of the nearly one million veterans who receive opioids to treat painful conditions, more than half continue to consume chronically or beyond 90 days.

U.S.: Rep. Blumenauer Grills FDIC On Blocking Financial Services To Marijuana Businesses

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Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) on Thursday sent a letter to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg asking for clarification on what guidance the FDIC provides to banks who offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses, and what role, if any, the FDIC played in M Bank’s decision to abruptly suspend operations in Colorado.

Last week, M Bank publically announced it would offer banking services to marijuana businesses in Colorado, only to abruptly reverse course a week later. A Denver Post article from January 26 cites industry insiders familiar with the situation claiming that the FDIC stepped in to warn M Bank executives that their actions were "too risky."

If this assertion is accurate, Rep. Blumenauer, who founded a marijuana working group in Congress, is demanding answers as to why this is the case.

Blumenauer is leading the effort in Congress to reform our outdated federal marijuana laws, which includes banking regulations.

"Having the FDIC clarify how it assesses risk and gives guidance, and how that aligns with guidance given by the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Treasury, is important if we’re going to have a stable and transparent financial system that provides much needed banking services to marijuana businesses," Blumenauer said.

U.S.: Top 6 Moments In The Historic First Year of Marijuana Legalization Listed By NCIA

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“There’s no superlative that could adequately describe the impact that 2014 has had on the cannabis industry.”
~ Aaron Smith, NCIA

In honor of the one-year anniversary of Colorado’s history-making opening of legal adult-use sales of marijuana, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is looking back at the most monumental year in the history of the cannabis industry.

“There’s no superlative that could adequately describe the impact that 2014 has had on the cannabis industry,” said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith. “The success of adult-use legalization in Colorado and Washington, the overwhelming public opinion in favor of medical marijuana, and the steady march of policy change at both the state and federal levels have created an entirely new world.

“NCIA is proud to work on behalf of the businesses, consumers, patients, and advocates all striving to build a cannabis industry that is successful, responsible, engaged in our communities, and treated fairly by policy-makers,” Smith said.

Nearly every week brought new ground-breaking developments, but here are NCIA’s top six moments in a year that has changed the industry forever.

1. Legal adult-use sales begin in Colorado.

U.S.: Drug Policy Action Grades Members of U.S. House of Representatives on Drug Policy Reform

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Historic Bipartisan Majority in Favor of Reforming U.S. Drug Laws and Letting States Set Their Own Marijuana Policies

Ideologically Diverse Representatives – From Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) – Named 2013-14 “Champions of Reform”

Drug Policy Action on Wednesday released the 2014 Drug Policy Reform Congressional Voter Guide, which grades members of Congress on how they voted on seven key drug policy reform votes in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013 and 2014.

The guide is designed not just to educate voters on which members of the U.S. House of Representatives support drug policy reform – but also to send a firm message to elected officials that they will be held accountable for supporting draconian policies that exacerbate the worst harms of the Drug War. Clear bipartisan support now exists both among the American public and in Congress for ending the Drug War and letting states set their own marijuana policies.

The voter guide examines historic votes on a wide range of issues, such as whether to bar the DEA from undermining state medical marijuana laws and whether to allow banks to accept deposits from marijuana businesses. The voter guide also summarizes decisive steps taken over the last two years by congressional lawmakers and officials in the Obama Administration toward advancing drug policy reform.

U.S.: GOP Congressmen Criticize Marijuana Legalization; Claim Pot Causes Car Wrecks

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Congressional Republicans on Thursday criticized Colorado and Washington state for legalizing marijuana, claiming pot causes automobile accidents.

Rep. John Mica (R-Florida), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations, claimed stronger federal laws against marijuana were needed in light of the wave of states legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational uses, reports Marina Fang at The Huffington Post. Rep. Mica made the remarks during a hearing entitled "Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Operating While Stoned."

Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana) couldn't resist joining in, attacking Colorado voters for their recent decision to legalize weed. Fleming pointed to a study by the University of Colorado at Denver purportedly showing an increase in traffic fatalities in the state since voters legalized medical marijuana, implying that further loosing the marijuana laws is dangerous.

Interestingly, Fleming didn't mention another study, by University of Colorado Denver professor Daniel Rees and Montana State University professor D. Mark Anderson, which found that traffic fatalities drop nearly 9 percent in states after the legalize medical marijuana.

U.S.: Bill In Congress Would Legalize CBD-Only Marijuana Strains For Medicine

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A three-page bill introduced on Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives would amend the Controlled Substances Act, which criminalizes marijuana, to exempt cannabis plants with extremely low levels of THC, the substance that makes people high, but contain higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which has shown promise in fighting seizures.

If passed, it would be the first time since 1937 that federal law officially allows any medical marijuana use. A handful of patients have, for years, been allowed to use federal medical marijuana in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, which began in the 1970s.

"No one should face a choice of having their child suffer or moving to Colorado and splitting up the family," said bill sponsor Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania). "We live in America, and if there's something that would make my child better, and they can't get it because of the government, that's not right."

Eleven states this year have passed laws loosening regulation of high-CBD, low-THC marijuana strains. Perry said that once Congress members and their staffs are educated, he expects the bill to attract "overwhelming" support. "In a time of inevitability in Washington, D.C., this is something where we can show some progress," he said.

U.S.: House Votes To Allow Banks To Work With Marijuana Stores and Dispensaries

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Historic Vote Falls on Heels of Votes in May to Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Medical Marijuana and Hemp Laws

Meanwhile Conflict Over Washington, DC Decrim Law and Legalization Ballot Measure Increases

In a historic vote, the U.S. House on Wednesday passed a bipartisan amendment by Representatives Denny Heck (D-WA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) preventing the Treasury Department from spending any funding to penalize financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The amendment passed 231 to 192.

In May, the House passed an amendment prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from undermining state medical marijuana laws and passed two amendments prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp laws.

“Congress is yet again rejecting the failed war on marijuana,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “They have read the poll numbers and are doing both what is right and what is politically smart.”

U.S.: House Committee Votes To Block Marijuana Decriminalization In Washington DC

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Advocates prepare for vote to remove Republican amendment on House floor

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed a Republican-sponsored amendment to the 2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill intended to prevent the District of Columbia from implementing its recently passed law decriminalizing the possession of marijuana. It also has the potential to end the District’s medical marijuana program.

The amendment, offered by GOP Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), passed by a vote of 28-21. It prohibits D.C. from spending federal funds or even its locally raised funds to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana.

The District of Columbia City Council passed a law in March replacing its criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana with a nominal $25 fine. It is scheduled to take effect July 17.

The law was largely a response to an ACLU report showing blacks in the District of Columbia are roughly eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites, despite similar use rates. In 2010, 91 percent of all marijuana arrests in D.C. were of African Americans.

The District’s medical marijuana law is the product of a 1998 initiative. It was not implemented until 2010 due to a provision in federal law, similar to the amendment offered by Rep. Harris, which was not repealed until 2009.

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