House committee approves a bill to allow marijuana research for U.S. veterans

US veterans dump hundreds of empty pill bottles at the White House to demand access to medical marijuana. (File image via The Washington Post)
US veterans dump hundreds of empty pill bottles at the White House to demand access to medical marijuana. (File image via The Washington Post)

Dubbed as a “historical first,” a U.S. House committee has approved on Tuesday a bill that would allow research on marijuana to further fine-tune treatment for the country’s veterans.

The approval comes on the heels of growing bipartisan support for more cannabis reforms, heralding more future action from Capitol Hill.

The bill was 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, Tom Angell from Marijuana Moment reported on Tuesday.

While Angell described the approved bill as “fairly limited in scope,” it would still encourage the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to “conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety” of medical cannabis “on the health outcomes of covered veterans diagnosed with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions.”

“The tide is turning on cannabis, and today’s vote is the latest example,” Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told Marijuana Moment.

“We still have a long way to go, but we are one step closer to helping our veterans get the care they want and deserve. Now is our moment. Now is the time to redouble our efforts.”

suicidide 1024x677 - House committee approves a bill to allow marijuana research for U.S. veterans
U.S. military veterans set up 1,892 American flags on the National Mall, in commemoration of the 1,892 veterans who committed suicide that year, in Washington, DC on March 27, 2014. (Image via Getty)

There are hundreds of marijuana reform bills that have been filed in Congress in recent years, however, none have ever been given a vote, until now, Angell explained how this bill is an “unprecedented” one.

The bill would allow VA research on the whole plant marijuana as well as extracts, and involve “at least three different strains of cannabis with significant variants in phenotypic traits and various ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol in chemical composition.”

In early January hopes were high after the VA permitted doctors to talk to veterans about marijuana without getting into hot water with the federal law. But in mid-January hopes were dashed when the VA said it won’t be researching medical marijuana, which is considered to be an alternative treatment especially for veterans suffering from PTSD.  

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