Dem Lawmaker Lashes Out Against GOP For Opposing Giving Veterans Pot

Craig Boudreau | Vice Reporter

Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer sent a letter to Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk on Wednesday blasting him for a remark he made over using medical marijuana to treat veterans.

“These wounded warriors should be treated with dignity, respect, and concern, and we should be helping them access the care they need,” Blumenauer wrote. “It is simply unconscionable that instead, you disparage them as drug addicts.”

Blumenauer’s letter comes in response to Kirk’s remarks during an April Senate vote to expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana. Kirk is opposed to using pot to treat veterans.

“I don’t think we have too few high veterans out there,” Kirk said in April.

“It’s upsetting to read such an ignorant statement,” Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s particularly upsetting because Illinois already has medical marijuana laws on the books.”

Blumenauer noted how veterans are dying of opioid overdoses at twice the rate of the general public — a figure that comes from a 2011 study done by the Veteran Administration’s Health Services Research and Development Service. Blumenauer thinks allowing medical marijuana would help cut down on those rates.

The House and Senate passed legislation in May that would allow Veterans Administration doctors to discuss medical marijuana as a treatment option for veterans. But, during the conference phase, and while Democrats staged an overnight sit-in for gun control, the language allowing for medical marijuana was stripped by Republicans. The House passed the marijuana-absent legislation at 3 a.m. that morning in a move Blumenauer said had “no transparency and little opportunity for Members to review.”

“Our language ensuring fair treatment for our veterans had broad, bipartisan support and passed both Chambers,” Blumenauer said in a joint statement with Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley. “It’s outrageous that it was removed.”

Air Force veteran Joel Erickson also believes Kirk’s comments were out-of-line, saying his comments were “an astoundingly insensitive thing to say to the thousands of vets who have served our nation, and use medical marijuana for pain relief.”

Kirk’s office did not return calls from The Daily Caller News Foundation for comment.

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