A powerful House committee has cleared two psychedelics research amendments and another measure on labeling pharmaceuticals with information about interactions with marijuana for floor consideration as part of large-scale spending bills.
On Saturday, the House Rules Committee advanced four appropriations bills with numerous proposed amendments, setting the stage for floor votes as a government funding deadline at the end of this month quickly approaches. Two of the spending bills could see drug policy reform measures attached.
The committee advanced two GOP-led amendments on psychedelics for a bill covering funding for the Department of Defense (DOD).
One, sponsored by Reps. Morgan Luttrell (R-TX) and Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), would provide $15 million in funding for DOD to carry out “Psychedelic Medical Clinical Trials.”
Another from Crenshaw would require the Defense Health Agency to “submit a report to Congress on options to ensure that active-duty service members who are suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are able to participate in clinical trials under the Department of Veterans Affairs for the purposes of studying the effectiveness of psychedelic substances.”
The Rules Committee previously made the amendments in order, but broader disagreement among lawmakers over the appropriations bill prevented the chamber from approving a rule to begin floor debate, forcing them to start over. The panel again blocked separate marijuana-related proposals from advancing.
However, the committee did make in order a cannabis amendment to a spending bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (Ag-FDA) that’s sponsored by Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-VA).
The measure “express[es] the intent that FDA begin requiring drug manufacturers to label prescribed pharmaceuticals with any known drug interactions with marijuana,” the summary says.
The motivation behind that measure is unclear, as is the feasibility of requiring such labeling given limited understanding of possible drug interactions with the Schedule I substance. However, it’s possible it could be modeled after existing warning labels about the use of alcohol while taking certain pharmaceuticals.
Meanwhile, two of the amendments that the Rules Committee blocked from advancing as part of the Ag-FDA and DOD bills would have prevented funding for marijuana testing of federal job applicants in states which have legalized marijuana use. Similar versions of that measure, filed by Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA), were also excluded from spending legislation for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
The committee also declined to make in order an amendment to the DOD legislation from Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Dave Joyce (R-OH) that would have ended THC testing for the purposes of enlisting military recruits.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) had initially filed a similar proposal for the DOD spending bill, but he withdrew it before it could be considered.
Previously, Garcia had proposed a version of his amendment on preventing marijuana testing of federal job applicants to a spending bill for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies (MilCon/VA) earlier this year. That one was not allowed to advance to the floor, either, though bipartisan lawmakers have cheered the House’s passage of the underlying legislation that included separate marijuana and psychedelics measures.
One of those House-passed amendments would allow VA doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations to veterans, and the other would encourage research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA.
The Senate Appropriations Committee also adopted a measure to its version of the MilCon/VA legislation that would similarly free up VA doctors to issue medical marijuana recommendations, increasing the chances of the reform making it into the final package to be signed into law.
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Meanwhile, a report attached to the spending legislation by the House Appropriations Committee also includes a section noting that “VA has clarified that nothing in VA statutes or regulations specifically prohibits a veteran whose income is derived from state-legalized cannabis activities from obtaining a certificate of eligibility for VA home loan benefits.”
Over in the Senate, lawmakers passed defense legislation in July that contains provisions to bar intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA from denying security clearances to applicants solely due to their past marijuana use. But other cannabis proposals, such as one from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) to allowed medical marijuana use by veterans, did not advance as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
More than a dozen marijuana and psychedelics amendments to the House version of the NDAA were blocked by the Rules Committee in July. That includes a measure introduced by Garcia that would have prevented security clearance denials for federal workers over prior cannabis use.
However, last week the House Oversight and Accountability Committee passed a standalone bipartisan bill that would prevent the denial of federal employment or security clearances based on a candidate’s past marijuana use.
On Wednesday, the Senate Banking Committee will hold a much-anticipated markup of a bipartisan marijuana banking bill.
Image element courtesy of Kristie Gianopulos.