A bill has been introduced to Congress hoping to push the Department of Veterans Affairs to research the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana – and it would also allow the Veterans Administration Doctors to provide information to their patients regarding marijuana treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain. Early in May the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs voted unanimously to advance the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act to the House floor for a full vote.
“I am not opposed to using marijuana extracts, following the appropriate medical research, as an alternative to indiscriminately prescribing opioids to our veterans to deal with chronic pain,” Coffman told Colorado Politics. “I have long fought the VA for being too ‘drug-centric’ in their modality of treatment for combat-related stress disorders because it only masks the symptoms as opposed to addressing the underlying problems.”
While the bill does not require the VA to research medical marijuana it does make it very clear that they are allowed to study it regardless of the plants federally illegal status. In fact, it encourages it by requiring the agency report back all findings to Congress as their research progresses. When introducing the bill back in April lawmakers argued that the VA is the best choice to research medical marijuana given their track record with medical advancements, their numerous resources and access to thousands of patients who suffer from two major conditions – PTSD and chronic pain.
“I’m keenly aware of need for VA to critically examine possible new treatments that could benefit veteran patients,” Representative Phil Roe, R-Tenn. said. “Like many of us on this dais, I’ve heard from many veterans who believe medical cannabis can help them lead healthy lives. Right now, we don’t know if that’s true or not, and that’s why we believe the VA should conduct rigorous research on medical cannabis just like any other medication or treatment.”
Many even made the ethical argument of putting personal feelings aside and consider that veterans deserve to know whether this really is a medicine that could possibly help vastly improve their quality of life. The bill still has a way to go before becoming law – but there is strong potential that this bill will soon pass and give veterans and VA doctors the protection from the federal government they have needed in order to safely participate in state-legal medical marijuana programs and research this alternative treatment.