(Big League Politics) – A House committee on Thursday approved a bill that would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct clinical trials into potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana for military veterans, Marijuana Moment reported.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee reportedly passed the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), in a vote of 18-11, with all Democrats in support and all but one Republican opposed.
Earlier versions of the measure reportedly cleared the panel in 2020 and 2018 but were not enacted into law.
“Our veterans are no strangers to confronting challenges, and that’s why Congress needs to explore alternative treatment options,” Correa told Marijuana Moment. “The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2021 meets veterans where they already are and opens a new door for federal policy that supports treatment options preferred by veterans.”
“How can we not try to gather the vast resources of Congress and the federal government to explore alternative treatment options like cannabis when veterans themselves are telling us that’s what they need,” the congressman said. “To not support this legislation would be to defer once again of our obligation to care for those who have sacrificed so much to help protect our nation.”
Veterans can purchase medical cannabis in 36 states & recreational cannabis in 19 states.@RepLouCorrea's bill would equip VA & its healthcare providers with scientific guidance about the potential impacts, benefits, & dangers of cannabis use to treat chronic pain & PTSD.
— House Veterans' Affairs (@VetAffairsDems) November 4, 2021
The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act is a somewhat controversial political move with the Biden administration expressing opposition to the reform entirely.
Democrat Chairman Mark Takano responded that he could not support the amendment because it gives the VA “far more leeway in determining the possible use of cannabis and treating pain and PTSD and veterans.”
“With all due respect VA could be doing that level of research now and simply has chosen not to,” he said. “VA’s Office of Research and Development can absolutely handle a clinical trial. It already conducts many of them. And it’s time to bring the scientific weight of that gold standard approach to the issue of cannabis use.”
Other marijuana policy-related efforts have recently been active in the political landscape, including Florida Republican Representative Greg Steube’s proposal in January aimed at making sure military veterans aren’t penalized for using medical cannabis in accordance with state law. It would also legally state that VA doctors can discuss the risks and benefits of marijuana with their patients.