Chairman of House VA Committee Supports Medical Marijuana Research

On Tuesday, the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs embraced a simple idea that could help America’s vets – the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should conduct substantial research into medicinal cannabis.

Committee chair Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe (R-1st District) voiced his unequivocal support for allowing research on the medicinal herb after speaking before the American Legion’s annual conference in the nation’s capital.

“We need to study that drug, like any other drug. Where there are benefits — if there are any — then we use it for what it’s researched for,” Roe told Stars and Stripes.

Rep. Roe’s message was directly aimed at VA Secretary David Shulkin.

Shulkin has often claimed the VA is prohibited by federal law from conducting research on medicinal cannabis, or even recommending it.

In a Dec. 2017 letter to Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz, Shulkin noted the “VA is committed to research and developing effective ways to help veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain conditions.” Shulkin then explained that “federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or to refer veterans to such research projects.”

The VA modified its information on their PTSD overview page in February.

After first acknowledging their review of existing literature discovered “limited evidence” that cannabis could alleviate neuropathic pain for some vets, the VA concluded the department “is not currently able to prescribe medical marijuana to Veterans, but can look at marijuana as an option for treating Veterans.

In agreement with Rep. Roe, the American Legion, and Rep. Tim Walz, a November 2017 poll shows an overwhelming majority (92 percent) of US military veterans want the VA  to conduct serious research into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

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