By a slim margin of 213-210, the House voted against an amendment Thursday to allow doctors to discuss cannabis with patients in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon forwarded an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill to stop the Department of Veterans Affairs from spending any funds on prohibiting doctors from recommending the drug. Marijuana is in high demand for conditions like PTSD.
Almost 30 percent of veterans suffer from either PTSD or depression, according to a VA report from 2012.
Although the amendment was blocked, the recent vote indicates that the number of legislators sympathetic to medical marijuana is growing from year to year.
As a notable example, Rep. Jason Chaffetz voted in support of the amendment. (RELATED: DC Marijuana Legalization Is All About Timing)
In February, Chaffetz sent a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser in which he stated that if she didn’t kill Initiative 71, the ballot measure legalizing marijuana, she might face serious jail time. The letter also demanded for Bowser to release the names of the employees involved in the Initiative 71 process.
Last year, Chaffetz voted to defeat the amendment, which failed by 222-195.
This time around, a total of 35 Republicans voted in favor, but some, like Republican Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, questioned why doctors would want to recommend marijuana, a drug listed under Schedule 1.
“Why are we going to give that to our veterans, especially those with PTSD? That is just absolutely insane,” Fleming said, The Hill reports.
Supporters and opponents continue to battle over whether marijuana has any medicinal value.
“While it’s disappointing that the House just voted to continue a senseless rule that prevents doctors from treating military veterans with a medicine proven to work for a number of serious conditions, the fact that we came so close is a good sign of things to come,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It is no longer considered politically risky for elected officials to work on scaling back the failed federal war on marijuana, as the 210 ‘yea’ votes we just saw demonstrates. This is just the first in what will be a series of important marijuana votes in Congress this year, and we expect to win more than we lose, just like we did last year.”
Medical marijuana programs exist in 23 states and the District of Columbia, but the drug still remains illegal under federal law.
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