It’s not surprising that the Department of Veterans Affairs won’t allow its doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans. Last year an amendment went before the House Rules Committee which would have given doctors in states with legal medical marijuana to recommend marijuana, and taken away the federal government’s ability to penalize veterans for using legal MMJ. But the GOP killed the amendment before it even went to a full vote.
Since the current VA Secretary David Shulkin was appointed by President Trump, it’s not surprising that he shares the views of the GOP members who blocked the MMJ amendment. What is just a little surprising is Shulkin says the VA isn’t even interested in researching whether cannabis could be beneficial to treating veterans.
Shulkin is dead set on not knowing whether or not medical cannabis could treat veterans that he even made up a bullshit excuse about why he can’t in a letter to U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), as reported by The Washington Post. A letter from 10 Democrats on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee had asked Shulkin to look into whether cannabis could be helpful in treating veterans’ afflictions such as post traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
“VA is committed to researching 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 projects.”
The only problem with that reasoning is that it is untrue. “Obviously it is federally illegal, but there are no restrictions on doing scientific research on it. Universities do this all the time and there’s a process to go through,” according to John Hudak, the deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution who spoke to the Post recently. “It’s really a cop out for the VA to say, ‘oh, we’re not doing work on this because of federal law’ when actually federal law allows them to do that.”
According to an American Legion phone survey release in November, 92% of veteran households support research of medical cannabis for veterans, 82% want to have medical marijuana as a treatment option, and 22% said they already use marijuana to treat a medical condition.
Photo via Flickr user Caroline