The U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Thursday advanced a measure that would require Veterans Affairs (VA) officials to hold clinical trials investigating medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, Military Times reports. The approval marks the first time medical cannabis-related legislation has been approved by the Senate panel.
In a statement accompanying the legislation’s introduction last week, committee Chairman Jon Tester (D) said it “ensures VA is listening to the growing number of veterans who find critical relief from alternative treatments like medicinal cannabis, while working to empower veterans in making safe and informed decisions about their health.”
“Our nation’s veterans deserve options when it comes to treating the wounds of war, which is why VA needs to have a better understanding of how medicinal cannabis plays a role in their healing.” — Tester via Military Times
If approved by Congress, the bill would authorize VA to implement a research plan into medical cannabis to investigate how its use could impact the quality of life for veterans. The proposed clinical trials would not only look at the impact of cannabis on specific ailments but also the effects of different forms, potencies, and methods of cannabis delivery. The bill does not specify how many veterans would be involved in the research but calls for a “large scale” study.
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), the bill’s sponsor, noted in a statement that “thousands of veterans” are already using medical cannabis under state-approved programs.
“…But we don’t yet have the data we need to understand the potential benefits and side effects associated with this alternative therapy,” he said.
In a statement, Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), said that 80% of the organization’s members supported the research of cannabis for medical use.
“Since 2017, IAVA has made it one of our top priorities to empower veterans who are calling for the medicinal use of cannabis,” he said in the statement. “…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.”
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