With the legalization of the medical marijuana in various states, the veteran community has urged the Department of Veterans Affairs to reconsider its’ policies on medical cannabis.
The Department has overlooked the need to research medicinal marijuana for veterans suffering from diagnoses including PTSD and chronic pain. Federal regulations, federal funding, bureaucratic red tape, onerous interagency coordination, and a lack of Congressional authority are cited as the major reasons behind not taking up research by VA.
Subsequently, Rep. Timothy Waltz (D-MN), along with over 30 co-sponsors, introduced legislation: HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act.
The legislation states: “In carrying out the responsibilities of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, … the Secretary may conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety of forms of cannabis … on the health outcomes of covered veterans diagnosed with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions the Secretary determines appropriate.”
The Medical Cannabis Research Act will authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to carry out scientific and medical research into the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis usage by veterans with diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain.
The Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018 will –
- clarify that the VA has the authority to research cannabis
- Require VA to report to Congress on how it intends to exercise that authority.
- Require VA to report Congress annually on research findings for each of the next five years.
Supporters of the ACT
The legislation has been cosponsored by 39 Democrats and 11 Republicans.
Over 20 organization including veteran organizations, medical and scientific research organizations and cannabis specific organizations have endorsed the Act.
The American Legion conducted a survey in October 2017 and found that:
- 92% of all respondents support medical research and
- 82% of all respondents support legalizing medicinal cannabis.
- 22% of veterans are currently using cannabis to treat a medical condition outside of the VA.”
Therefore, we see how much it is needed and widely supported by the veteran community to research into the medicinal uses of cannabis. The Act will improve and in many cases save the lives of veterans across the country.
The bipartisan legislation has not yet passed but is indicative that American society is ready to discuss an end of the prohibition of cannabis. At the least, it’s time to approve marijuana and hemp plant derivatives such as Cannabidiol (aka CBD) for medical use.
Moreover, medical discoveries by the Department of VA during cannabis testing can have wide-ranging effects on the broader national debate on the validity of marijuana’s medical uses.
Update on the act
H.R.5520, the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, has been passed out of House Committee.