Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act Signed by President

In an astonishingly short timeframe, the AVMA, with assistance from the CVMA, was able to change federal DEA law that had stood for nearly 40 years. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act has changed the law to now allow veterinarians to carry controlled substances in the field.

In the spring of 2012, the CVMA received dozens of phone calls and emails from northern California veterinarians requesting assistance in representing them to the DEA. Large animal ambulatory and small animal mobile practitioners were being contacted by the Sacramento Region Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) field office and informed that it was unlawful for them to carry controlled substances in their vehicles. The CVMA immediately contacted the DEA field office to voice concern about the calls and requested that veterinary practitioners be exempted from this regulation on the grounds that the nature of veterinary practice requires that controlled substances be used in the field. While the local DEA office was receptive to comments, their ultimate stance was that they cannot write the law, only enforce it. DEA interpretation of existing law was that controlled substances could only be shipped to, stored at, and dispensed from a fixed premises registered with the DEA.

Because DEA regulations are federal law, any changes to them must be made through national legislation. The CVMA contacted the American Veterinary Medical Association Governmental Relations Division (AVMAGRD) to apprise them of this recent development and discuss the issue. Together, both associations worked to assemble background information and formulate talking points about the issue. The CVMA worked with the veterinarians who had been contacted by the DEA to obtain statements about what they had been told. This information was instrumental to the AVMA since it provided real world evidence of how existing law was affecting practitioners’ ability to treat animals.

The AVMA secured authors for The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, which would enable veterinarians to carry controlled substances with them in their vehicle. In April and June of 2013, H.R. 1528 and S. 1171 (identical bills moving through both the House of Representatives and the House of Senate) were introduced respectively. The CVMA coordinated grass roots lobbying efforts by providing contact information and talking points for veterinarians to convey their opinions to their congressmen. Thanks to collective lobbying efforts by the CVMA, the AVMA and several other state veterinary medical associations, the bills quickly gained widespread support and passed out of both houses without any opposition. The bills were consolidated into one final version, H.R. 1528, which was then sent to the White House for the President’s signature. On August 1, 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, officially making it law.

In an astonishingly short timeframe, the AVMA, along with help from the CVMA, was able to change federal DEA law that had stood for nearly 40 years. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act has changed the law to now allow veterinarians to carry controlled substances in the field.

The CVMA is grateful to both veterinarians in Congress, Representative Kurt Shrader, (D-Oregon) and Representative Ted Yoho (R-Florida) who co-sponsored H.R. 1528.


© 2019 California Veterinary Medical Association

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