Metro-East News

Lawmakers push to restore medical marijuana language to VA bill

Days after lawmakers killed legislation that would have cleared Veterans Affairs doctors to discuss and make recommendations about medical marijuana to their patients, supporters are taking another swing at the proposal, according to Military.com.

A group of 11 lawmakers are asking the House and Senate leadership to restore the language to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill. The medical marijuana provision was dropped during a conference committee review of the legislation -- even though both the House and Senate backed the legislation.

“We feel the failure of the Conferees to include either provision is a drastic misfortune for veterans and is contrary to the will of both chambers as demonstrated by the strong bipartisan support for these provisions,” the supporters wrote to congressional leaders on Tuesday.

No one on the conference committee — made up of lawmakers from the Senate and House appropriations committees — has taken credit for pulling the language from the bill.

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Missoula and America said goodbye Monday to a quiet hero in ground-shaking fashion.

First a B-1 Bomber from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota thundered northwest to southeast over Sunset Memorial Cemetery and the crowded grave site of David Thatcher, the penultimate Doolittle Raider from World War II, according to the Associated Press.

A B-25 from Seattle, of the same vintage as the one on which a 20-year-old Thatcher served as tail gunner/engineer in the famed bombing raid over Tokyo on April 18, 1942, rumbled in from the northeast. It flew over twice, then circled the cemetery and Missoula, Montana, in ever-higher spirals into the deep blue summer sky.

The flyovers were a rare honor for an enlisted man in the United States Air Force, but Staff Sgt. Thatcher, 94, was a rare man. His death in Missoula on Wednesday prompted a nation's salute and obituaries in the New York Times and Washington Post.

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Stars and Stripes is reporting that Congress lined up for a battle over whether women should be required to register for the draft, there’s one group that is solidly against the idea, a new poll suggests: women themselves.

Women are much less likely than men to say women should be required to register for Selective Service when they turn 18, according to a poll conducted June 18-20 by The Economist/YouGov. Thirty-nine percent of women supported registration for women, compared to 61 percent of men.

The question is largely theoretical since the United States ended the draft in 1973 as the Vietnam War was winding down. Men have been required since 1980 to register when they turn 18. Draft eligibility expires at 26. But the question has come to signify a deeper discussion about gender equality in the military, and it took on new weight last week when the Senate approved a military policy bill that, for the first time, would require women to register. The legislation will now have to be reconciled with the House version, which would require only a study on the draft issue.

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Pentagon officials may soon announce an end to the military’s longtime ban on transgender troops, multiple news outlets are reporting. Officials are expected to formally lift the ban in July, though the exact date is still unclear, according to DefenseOne.

Citing an anonymous Defense Department official, USAToday reports that each branch of the military will have one year “to implement new policies affecting recruiting, housing and uniforms for transgender troops.” That paper cites this coming Friday as the target announcement date, but Washington Post sources at the Pentagon weren’t so precise.

A working group had been assessing a policy switch for months. But disagreement within the Department of Defense led to officials missing their deadline in early 2016, The Washington Post reported last month. “We do things in a careful, thoughtful manner, and I’m confident we’re going to get to the right place,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in May.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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