Quick Hits: Congress Drops Support For VA Medical Marijuana


WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bi-partisan amendment to allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states that allow it has disappeared from the appropriations process. The VA funding bill had included the Blumenauer Amendment, which passed the House 233-189 in its first vote and 296-129 once it was added to the funding measure. A similar measure in the Senate passed 89-8. But when the House Democrats staged their sit-in over gun control measures, the Republicans brought up the VA funding bill without the Blumenauer Amendment attached. The House Appropriations Committee has not revealed which Republican member removed the amendment before the vote. The Senate failed to pass the funding bill, so there may yet be an opportunity to place the amendment back into the bill.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Democratic Party has officially added support for marijuana law reform to its party platform. The Democrats will fight for decriminalization of marijuana possession, modifying policy to allow for scientific research, and supporting each state’s right to abolish marijuana prohibition as they see fit. However, Senator Bernie Sanders’ call for the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act altogether was not accepted by the national Democratic Party. The Democrats also note that marijuana prohibition has had a disparate impact on people of color.

LANSING, Michigan – Eight months’ worth of drug testing poor people who are applying for welfare has netted not one positive result. Supporters of the drug testing point out that drug testing may dissuade drug users from applying, possibly reducing the positivity rate. But that seems unlikely, as none of the 303 applicants selected for screening opted out and the application rate for welfare subsidies did not decline.

PHOENIX, Arizona – The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona has unveiled a marijuana-themed billboard for the 4th of July weekend encouraging people to “Buy American”. The advertisement for Arizona’s legalization campaign points out that passage of the initiative would allow Arizonans to buy locally-sourced marijuana that would benefit schools through tax revenues rather than profiting the murderous cartels south of the border. Arizona public officials and law enforcement oppose legalization, warning that legalization would be detrimental to public health and safety.

"Radical" Russ Belville is a blogger, podcaster, and host of The Russ Belville Show, a daily two-hour talk radio show focused on the evolution of the legal marijuana industry in the United States. The program is airing live at 3pm Pacific Time from Portland, Oregon, on CannabisRadio.com, with podcast available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio. Russ began his marijuana activism in 2005 with Oregon NORML, then in 2009 went on to work for National NORML, and found and direct Portland NORML.in 2015.