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Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FARR. Madam Chair, I thank Ranking Member Bishop for that kind introduction. And, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your leadership on this committee. I have been on this committee since I've been on the Committee on Appropriations, and I'm really excited about the ability for us to respond to the quality of life for people in uniform and their families.

This is the committee that helps the families with housing, with health care, with child care, with the benefit packages that the military allows. It's very, very important because we also have the responsibility for the Department of Veterans Affairs. It's the only one-stop in an entire Congress, because the Senate has no comparable committee where both the responsibility of the Active Duty and the veterans are in one place. You know, in this country you can't be a veteran unless you've first been a member of the Department of Defense, so it's a continuum of care.

If you add up the budgets of both the Defense Department and veterans and our military construction, it's the largest of all the budgets that the appropriations does, so it is important that we pay a lot of attention to detail. We have a lot of issues dealing with not only Active Duty military and their living conditions, but also conditions, serious conditions with veterans and the backlog that veterans have.

I think we're on the road to solving that problem. California has the worst backlog in the office in Oakland, but the Secretary has been paying a lot of attention and putting a lot of technology into it. I want to commend the chair and the ranking member of this committee for the leadership they've provided in trying to solve it.

I also want to commend, I think the Department of Defense has the best capital outlay program. It's called the FYDP. It stands for fiscal year improvement plan or something like that. What it does, all of the services, whenever they need anything constructed, they have to go in and compete against each other, and so it's on merit. Then the project with the most merit moves to the top of the list. We have been able to take care of that in a very responsible way.


Mr. FARR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I have a very simple amendment. As most Members know, 19 States and the District of Colombia have enacted laws that provide for the legal access to medical marijuana. Two of those States provide access to marijuana for more than medicinal purposes.

In checking out the rules within the VA on the matter of medical marijuana, it turns out that there is a policy in force, which is called Directive 2011-004, that specifically ``prohibits VA providers from completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran's participation in a State marijuana program.''

My amendment denies the VA any funds to implement that prohibition, thus freeing up the VA doctors to assist VA patients in accessing medical marijuana outside of the VA system. All this amendment does is make it possible for the VA doctors to provide medical advice to the VA patients on the relative pros and cons of medical marijuana if they want to have that discussion. For those doctors who wish to offer recommendations to VA patients on accessing medical marijuana, they are no longer prohibited from doing so.

Essentially, the VA order is a censorship in those 19 States and the District of Columbia saying that doctors can't even have this discussion, yet the civilians going to a civilian doctor can have that discussion. So what we're doing is removing the ability for the VA to enforce that provision thinking that that's fair.

This is a very controversial, I know, issue of medical marijuana, but in those States that have made it the law of that State, then veterans ought to be treated equally with civilian patients in being able to have access to the total array of applicable medical devices, including the use of medical marijuana.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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