Bipartisan legislation would grant veterans access to medical cannabis

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Two bipartisan lawmakers just introduced legislation to permit medical cannabis for veterans. The unlikely duo plan to ameliorate the medical cannabis-related practices conducted by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Reps. Matthew Gaetz (R-FL) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) revealed the trio of bills, which would ultimately leave the issue to be dealt with by the VA.

To be precise, the legislation would allow cannabis-using veterans to be transparent regarding their consumption habits. In order to accomplish this, veterans would be asked to participate in a national survey that asks them if they want to be presented with medical cannabis as a treatment.

Moreover, it would encourage former servicemen to disclose their reasons for wanting cannabis. Veterans would then be provided with education on the subject, of which would be delivered to them as part of a team effort from the VA and medical universities.

“Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids, and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers,” Moulton explained in a statement. “Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana—including our veterans. We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible.”

Previous efforts to legalize cannabis for veterans have not been successful

In the past, numerous attempts to legalize medical cannabis for veterans have tried and failed after being presented before the House. A number of those previous attempts were carried out by Gaetz.

Now, following the recent Democratic-House flip and departure of anti-pot chairman of the House Rules Committee, Pete Sessions, the chances of the bill passing are better than they’ve ever been before.

“Medical cannabis has tremendous potential for veterans. It can reduce chronic pain, without the harmful side effects of opioids, and some early reports indicate that it may even have potential as a treatment for PTSD,” Gaetz stated. “Unfortunately, many veterans fear discussing medical cannabis with their doctors, for fear that their benefits will be jeopardized.”

If the results of an American Legion survey are anything to go by, cannabis for veterans could be a reality, what with one in five veterans currently using the plant to relieve the symptoms of medical conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Based on the results of the same survey, a whopping 92 percent of veteran families advocate research into the potential of using weed to overcome various mental and physical issues.

Studies demonstrate cannabis’ efficacy at treating PTSD symptom

Although cannabis is a recommended treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), studies are limited. Nonetheless, PTSD is one of the many approved conditions for medical cannabis in certain U.S. states.

Existing literature suggests a potential reduction in PTSD symptomatology with medical cannabis. On the other hand, it  indicates “a correlation with problematic cannabis use, though directionality is not established at this time.”

Making a final conclusion on the benefits of using cannabis for veterans with PTSD depends on the results of future neurobiological studies in humans and animals models.