Legislation pushes for medical marijuana trials for veterans

CINCINNATI — The medical use of cannabis is now making its way into legislative texts on Capitol Hill in an effort to seek further use in the treatment of veterans.

Senate Bill 1467 and House Bill 2916, known as the “VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2021”, each direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a series of clinical trials on the effects of cannabis on certain health outcomes of veterans with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.

When Homefront took a closer look at veterans looking for medical cannabis in October 2019, which is not an option through the VA medical system, we found veterans looking for alternatives to traditional pharmaceuticals. .

Nicholas Schneider was a veteran willing to discuss his post-traumatic stress issues, saying he noticed a difference after his first month of using medical marijuana.

“I call it a great supplement,” Schneider said. “It doesn’t replace everything, especially therapy and things like that. It allows me to get rid of pharmaceuticals which, you know, have really negative side effects.”

At the time, Dr. James Weeks, owner of One Heart Medical, said veterans were walking through his door looking for relief outside the VA.

“15% of my patients are veterans,” Weeks said. “They range from mid-20s to 60s, 60s and most of the time when these patients come to the clinic, the reasons they seek help are PTSD and chronic pain.”

Weeks works with these veterans to find the best medical cannabis strain to address each veteran’s specific issues or concerns. It’s something the VA continues to push online, citing in part on its website that “…cannabis is not recommended for the treatment of PTSD.”

There are concerns that the federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, making it illegal.

The nonprofit Disabled American Veterans (DAV) said it was time to begin the process to further explore the drug’s benefits for chronic pain, PTSD and other potential uses.

“We always want to see what can help our members be happier and healthier when it comes to their service-related disabilities,” said Marquis Barefield, Deputy National Legislative Director of DAV.

The group has let its members know that it supports both bills.

“We do what we can when we find legislation we can support to inform our members…here’s something that’s potentially good for you or something you’ve asked for that we think is good legislation, and make sure to let your lawmakers know that,” Barefield said.

Bills haven’t passed committee since November 2021. Skopos Labs, which provides any bill’s prognosis and ability to move forward, says there’s a 3% chance the legislation will be enacted.

At the time this article was published, there were no co-sponsors for either bill from Ohio, Indiana or Kentucky.

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