A powerful House committee has cleared two psychedelics amendments for floor consideration as part of a large-scale spending bill covering the Department of Defense (DOD). But it also blocked separate marijuana-related proposals from advancing.
Several bipartisan members filed drug policy reform proposals that they hope will be attached to the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations legislation. And on Tuesday, the House Rules Committee made the two psychedelics measures in order, allowing them to advance to floor votes.
The DOD bill is one of four spending packages on the committee’s current agenda, and all three of the remaining measures contain at least one marijuana proposal that would prohibit various departments from testing federal job applicants for cannabis.
Here are the official summaries of amendments that the Rules Committee is advancing to the floor:
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX):Provides funding for 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.
Reps. Morgan Luttrell (R-TX) and Dan Crenshaw (R-TX): Provides $15 million in funding for the DoD wide Psychedelic Medical Clinical Trials.
Here are the measures that were blocked from floor consideration:
Reps. Robert Garcia (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR): Blocks funding for marijuana testing of federal job applicants in states which have legalized marijuana use.
Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Dave Joyce (R-OH): Decreasing funding for Operation and Maintenance, Army and increasing funding for Military Personnel, Army to support and expand the Army’s recruitment initiative to waive the prohibition on enlistees disqualified for tetrahydrocannabinol.
One proposal was withdrawn by its sponsor ahead of the committee meeting:
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): Prohibits federal funds from being used for cannabis testing for enlistment or commission in certain armed forces.
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Members of the Rules Committee will also soon consider separate appropriations bills covering the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS); Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and State and Foreign Operations.
The amendment from Garcia on prohibiting cannabis drug testing for federal job applicants was submitted for each of the spending bills in order to broaden the number of departments that would be affected by the policy change.
Garcia also proposed a similar version of the amendment 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, 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.
It remains unclear how the GOP-controlled House Rules Committee will approach the remainder of the drug policy reform amendments that have been filed for the other three pending appropriations bills. The panel has blocked numerous other bipartisan drug policy reform measures to other appropriations legislation this session, even though it did allow the previously mentioned marijuana and psychedelics proposals to advance.
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.
House and Senate appropriators have also approved large-scale annual spending bills that once again include language to protect state medical cannabis programs, as well as a controversial rider to block Washington, D.C. from implementing a system of regulated marijuana sales.
Image element courtesy of Kristie Gianopulos.