Post 9-11 veterans group pushing Congress to allow VA research on medical marijuana
By KATE SANTICH | Orlando Sentinel | Published: October 6, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC (Tribune News Service) — In a #CannabisForVets campaign launched this week, the nonpartisan advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is calling on “all patriotic Americans” to urge Congress to pass the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018, which would authorize the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to study the efficacy of cannabis for soldiers enrolled in the VA system and diagnosed with such conditions as chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Our government allowed our men and women to handle weapons, warships and the most incredible technology in the world, but it prohibits them from having access to cannabis to treat their wounds,” IAVA said in a news release. “It’s backward and harmful that regressive federal policies still ridiculously prohibit our veterans from having access to something that can lessen their pain, treat their symptoms and improve their lives.”
The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, introduced last spring, has stalled despite bipartisan support in Congress and what IAVA says is widespread support for medical cannabis among veterans.
Some 31 states now permit the drug when prescribed by a physician. But early this year, then VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin announced that the VA would not conduct research into whether medical cannabis could help veterans suffering from PTSD and chronic pain, though Shulkin did ease rules to allow VA doctors to talk to veterans about the drug. Still, VA physicians cannot refer patients to medical marijuana programs in the states where the drug is legal.
IAVA said getting the cannabis research act passed is one of its top priorities.
“Veterans consistently and passionately have communicated that cannabis offers effective help in tackling some of the most pressing injuries we face when returning from war,” the group said.