U.S. Veteran Affairs Refusing to Research Medical Marijuana, Slammed as ‘Disappointing’

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)

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) said in a letter released on Tuesday that it won’t initiate any research into marijuana’s effects on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a letter, dated Dec. 21 but publicly released on Tuesday, that the Department of Veteran Affairs won’t initiate any research on medical marijuana following a request made in October from Democrats on the House Committee.

Shulkin’s response comes as shocking news to veterans, who claim that they benefited from marijuana’s soothing effects on their anxiety and PTSD after enduring violence in U.S. wars. 

The letter stated a VA review of research, which found a connection between marijuana use and increased odds of suicide, as well as increased evidence of mania and psychotic symptoms.

It also urged the VA that medical marijuana could reduce opioid prescriptions. The letter also included other alternative treatments to veterans like yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, and tai chi.

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
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)

Many congressmen, veterans, and the country’s largest veterans service organization have lobbied to see research being done into medical marijuana.  

“VA is committed to research and developing effective ways to help veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain conditions,” Shulkin wrote. “However, federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or to refer veterans to such research projects.”

Response thrashed

Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., the ranking Democrat on the House VA oversight committee, who signed the October letter, on Tuesday called Shulkin’s response “disappointing and unacceptable.”

In early January and after California legalized marijuana on Jan. 1, U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions annulled an Obama-era rule, which allowed states that have already legalized marijuana to operate cannabis business freely within their jurisdiction.

Shulkin’s response comes in line with strict U.S. federal rule which absolutely forbids marijuana.

John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution, slammed Shulkin’s response as “an unfortunate combination of false information, incomplete analysis, and incomprehensible logic.”

Shulkin “appears to wave off committee members’ concerns about an issue that affects the lives of millions of soldiers and veterans across the United States,” Hudak wrote in a report.

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