In a flurry of votes before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Tuesday, house lawmakers voted to advance plans to increase research on the medical benefits of cannabis, reported the Military Times.
Legalization advocates have enjoyed past victories with the passage of amendments attached to larger legislation, today’s legislation is the first standalone bill that has ever passed.
“Hundreds of marijuana reform bills have been filed in Congress in recent years, but none have ever been given a vote, until now,” said Marijuana Moment’s Tom Angell.
The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018 will allow the agency to conduct long overdue research into the medicinal efficacy of cannabis. It will allow permit research into the therapeutic value of the plants compounds for the benefit of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain.
VA officials have said in recent years that federal rules regarding MMJ research have limited their ability to properly examine it. Lawmakers are hopeful this new measure will silence those concerns and provide definitive data on how cannabis can be helpful to suffering veterans.
Studies will examine “varying methods of cannabis delivery, including topical application, combustible and noncombustible inhalation, and ingestion.”
Filed by Veterans’ Affairs Committee GOP Chairman Phil Roe of Tennessee and Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the committee, along with 52 other cosponsors, the committee approved the bill by a voice vote after a brief discussion, reported the Marijuana Moment.
“While this bill is certainly modest in its immediate impact, we believe that it is a necessary first step toward building bipartisan support for broader cannabis reform legislation in Congress,” the Veterans Cannabis Coalition said in a statement.
Legalization activists say that the research bill doesn’t go far enough. They want Congress to insist the VA allow its doctors to issue MMJ recommendations for veterans in states where it is legal.
“The VA has been instrumental in cutting edge research to improve the lives of those who serve our country,” Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, told Marijuana Moment.
“With nearly 1 in 4 veterans reporting that they consume cannabis to alleviate their ailments, it is absolutely imperative that the VA reform their policies to both conduct research and allow VA doctors to recommend therapeutic cannabis when they see fit.”