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House Committee Advances Bill to Push VA on Cannabis Research

The U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Tuesday gave unanimous support to a measure that would clarify that the Veterans’ Administration is authorized to conduct research on medical cannabis, and requires the VA to update Congress on what it is doing in that regard.

The proposal, if it ultimately passes, would take away the VA’s stated reason for not doing any medical marijuana research. The agency has said it can’t, because federal law prohibits it.  The bill is sponsored by Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota.

The committee has noted in the past that an American Legion survey last year found more than 90 percent of veterans surveyed supported the agency doing research and more than 80 percent supported legalizing medical marijuana.

It also found that more than 20 percent of veterans already use cannabis for a medical condition.

“Therefore, it is clear that medical research into the safety and efficacy of cannabis usage for medical purposes is timely, necessary, and widely supported by the veteran community,” the panel said in a background document. “Further, as so many veterans are currently using cannabis for medicinal purposes, it is important that clinicians are able to fully advise veterans on the potential impacts, harms, and benefits of cannabis use on those with various diagnoses including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain.”

 Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Dan Sullivan of Alaska introduced companion legislation this week in the Senate.

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