In January, the U.S. Veteran Affairs Department (VA) made an astounding announcement: it will not research marijuana, a green plant known for its tremendous soothing benefits for soldiers and veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The VA’s Secretary in Washington David J. Shulkin said U.S. “federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or to refer Veterans to such research projects.”
Shulkin made his prohibitive statement in response to a letter by the Democratic members of the House of Veterans Affairs Committee. The Democrats inquired in a letter asking in October “why his department is not conducting research into medical marijuana.”
Shredded to Pieces
But in a scathing response, Shulkin’s letter was described as “an unfortunate combination of false information, incomplete analysis, and incomprehensible logic” by John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management and a senior fellow in Governance Studies.
Hudak published his counter-argument on Jan. 16, on the Brookings Institute page, titled “When the VA lies to Congress about medical marijuana, it lies to our wounded warriors.”
Hudak said Shulkin’s claim is “simply false” when he said “…Federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana…”
He wrote, “doctors and researchers at the VA or in VA hospitals could conduct research into the medical efficacy of marijuana while remaining completely compliant with federal laws, regulations, and the United States’ obligations under international agreements.”
He continued by saying that “every day,” U.S. doctors and other researchers “conduct research into the health effects, risks, and benefits of marijuana for medical purposes.”
He added: “Nothing under federal law treats a VA researcher differently than it does a doctor at Sloan Kettering or a researcher at the University of Michigan.”
Hulk, who authored a 2016 book, Marijuana: A Short History, said it is not even a “debate” on legalization “nor does it pit liberal reformers against conservative elements of the Trump administration.”
He said the Democrats members’ “request centers on an empirical question in science: can marijuana be used to treat conditions in soldiers?”
“With hundreds of thousands of patients across the country reporting benefits from medical marijuana and with veterans self-medicating on a daily basis, VA owes it to veterans to conduct high quality, rigorous research into this substance.”
Hudak also urged Shulkin not to complain about bureaucracy, but “instead work” with other U.S. agencies like the Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Health & Human Services “to create a workable process that puts veterans’ needs above bureaucratic inertia.”
Read Hudak’s full article HERE
Meanwhile, Tom Angell, a journalist specialized in marijuana, spotted a contrast between Shulkin’s letter and the VA’s official webpage.
He said the VA Office of Research & Development’s webpage on PTSD now says that earlier research on medical cannabis “found limited evidence that marijuana use might alleviate neuropathic pain in some patients, and that it might reduce spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, but found insufficient evidence to assess the effects of marijuana on PTSD.”
“VA is not currently able to prescribe medical marijuana to Veterans,” it continues, “but can look at marijuana as an option for treating Veterans.”
Angell concluded that the VA admits that marijuana could possibly be an option for treating veterans.