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Congressional Leadership Continues to Block Marijuana Law Reform

congress and marijuana law reform

Congressional leadership remains resistant to any changes in America’s antiquated marijuana laws.

In recent days, high-ranking members of Congress have quashed efforts to allow marijuana-related business access to banking services, as well as a bipartisan effort to expand military veterans’ access to medical cannabis.

On June 22, Republican leaders on the House Rules Committee denied members the opportunity to vote on a Democrat-sponsored amendment that sought to permit banks and other financial institutions to engage in relationships with state-compliant marijuana businesses. Senate Appropriations Committee members had approved a similar amendment the week before by a vote of 16 to 14. That amendment, which is now included in the Senate’s version of the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, awaits further action on the Senate floor. If approved, the Senate bill will ultimately need to be reconciled in conference committee with House leadership.

Separate language that sought to permit physicians associated with the Department of Veterans Affairs the ability to recommend cannabis therapy to eligible patients also appears to have been halted at the eleventh hour. In May, majorities in both the House and Senate approved provisions to the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, prohibiting the federal government from sanctioning V.A. physicians who wish to recommend cannabis therapy to their patients. But when the finalized bill emerged from conference committee, these provisions were no longer included.

Under current policy, V.A. physicians are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary for military veterans to access medical cannabis in states that permit its therapeutic use – a policy that now appears unlikely to change any time soon.

In April, NORML released a Congressional Scorecard assigning letter grades ‘A’ through ‘F’ to every member of the House and Senate based on their marijuana-related comments and voting records. To see what grades your Congressional members received on marijuana law reform, click here.



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