The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved several marijuana reform amendments as part of a large-scale defense bill, including proposals to protect banks that work with state-legal cannabis businesses and allow U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations.
A total of nine drug policy measures passed the chamber as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week, after being made in order for floor consideration by the Rules Committee on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the House first approved a bipartisan pair of psychedelics research amendments, as well as another measure requiring a military study into marijuana-related enforcement discrimination in the armed services. Those were part of the first en bloc package of measures that were taken up on the floor.
Subsequent packages contained a wide range of cannabis proposals. One amendment from Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) that advocates and stakeholders have been monitoring especially closely contains the language of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would protect financial institutions that service state-legal marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators.
Perlmutter discussed the measure in the Rules Committee on Tuesday, arguing that it was germane to the defense legislation because it could help combat international drug trafficking, which poses a national security risk. The House adopted the amendment as part of last year’s NDAA, but the Senate didn’t go along so it was not included in the final bill.
The congressman also tried getting marijuana banking reform included in a large-scale manufacturing bill that’s in bicameral conference, but leadership agreed to exclude the language, prompting him to pursue another vehicle.
Meanwhile, an amendment from Reps. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-OR) and Brian Mast (R-FL) to codify that VA doctors can discuss and issue recommendations for medical cannabis to veterans also passed the House.
In a Dear Colleague letter that was shared with Marijuana Moment, Blumenauer and Mast talked about the unique therapeutic potential of cannabis for veterans suffering from PTSD and argued that current VA policy prohibiting doctors from issuing recommendations “forces veterans to seek care outside of the VA to receive opinions and recommendations on this care option.”
“VA physicians should not be denied the ability to offer a recommendation that they think may meet the needs of their patients,” they wrote. “Veterans should not be forced outside the VA system to seek treatment that is legal in their state.”
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Published: July 15, 2022
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