Congress Urged to Mandate VA Research on Cannabis Benefits for Veterans

Congress Urged to Mandate VA Research on Cannabis Benefits for Veterans

Democratic Congressman Lou Correa is calling on Congress to give the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) a clear mandate to study the potential benefits and risks of marijuana for military veterans. During a hearing before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Correa urged the panel to advance his bipartisan bill, the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act.

Correa emphasized the importance of listening to veterans and addressing their struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He stated that many veterans have approached him expressing their desire to use cannabis as an alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals. The congressman believes it is the veterans’ right to determine what they need and that the VA should conduct research to provide answers regarding cannabis usage.

While Correa generally opposes mandates, he sees it as necessary in this case because previous requests for research have been unsuccessful. The congressman had previously discussed the issue of marijuana and veterans with VA Secretary Denis McDonough, leading to increased expectations for the department to support the legislation. However, there has been no significant progress on the matter thus far.

In February, a Senate version of the bill passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, marking a historic milestone for standalone cannabis legislation in the chamber. However, Senate Republicans blocked its advancement to the floor in April. Similar versions of the legislation have previously cleared committees in the House but failed to become law.

Recent developments in Congress, including the attachment of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), show growing momentum for cannabis research within the VA. The amendment would mandate separate research on medical cannabis issues, while another provision in the bill would require an investigation into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.

With increasing support from lawmakers and recognition of the importance of addressing veterans’ needs, the discussion on VA research into cannabis benefits is expected to continue in Congress.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be in the know about the evolving world of cannabis. Subscribe to NECANN today.