A bipartisan group of lawmakers are hoping that the new Department of Veterans Affairs secretary will back research into marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain as an alternative to opioids.
“We believe VA has the authority, ability and capacity to carry out such a study,” they wrote. “Many of our nation’s veterans already use medicinal cannabis, and they deserve to have full knowledge of the potential benefits and side effects of this alternative therapy.”
Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, signed the letter, along with Democrats Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota.
Wilkie, sworn into the office in July, is relatively new as VA Secretary and it’s still not known where he stands on the issue. Many consider the letter to be a gauge of Wilkie’s medical cannabis position.
“I think this is an opportunity to get him on the record and get a more clear understanding of what his perception is about how the VA can conduct cannabis research,” said Eric Goepel, founder of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition, an advocacy group founded by veterans to promote the legal use of marijuana.
Nick Etten, a former Navy SEAL who founded the Veterans Cannabis Project, another veterans advocacy group dedicated to the medicinal use of marijuana, said he also has “no idea” where Wilkie stands on the drug. The lawmakers asked him for a prompt response to their letter.
“Secretary Wilkie has the opportunity to put medicine before politics and address one of the greatest needs of veterans right now, and that is alternative therapies for the signature wounds of war,” Etten said. “I hope he does the right thing and addresses this directly and aggressively.”
Roe and Walz, the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced legislation in April to clarify that the VA has the authority to study marijuana.
The House committee unanimously sent the bill to the full House in May. However, it’s uncertain when – or whether – it will be scheduled for a vote on the House floor.
Source – Stars and Stripes
Image – US Department of Veterans