Congress continues down cannabis legalisation path

In a further indication of changing attitudes towards the cultivation and use of cannabis in the US, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC) has approved a bill that would effectively legalise medical marijuana for military veterans.

The bill approved by the HVAC requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct clinical trials on the medical benefits of marijuana for military veterans with PTSD and chronic pain—despite opposition testimony from the Biden administration.

Senators Brian Schatz and Bernie Sanders, along with six other lawmakers, filed a National Defense Authorization Act amendment that would federally legalize medical marijuana for military veterans.

It would also let Department of Veterans Affairs doctors issue cannabis recommendations and require the department to research marijuana’s therapeutic potential to reduce pain and opioid misuse.

The legislation “would direct VA to conduct clinical research with varying forms of medicinal cannabis to evaluate the safety and effects of cannabis on health outcomes of veterans with PTSD and veterans with chronic pain.”

The bill is not the only cannabis-friendly attempt to emanate from Congress at present.

Republican Lou Correa has also introduced a bill that would instruct the Veterans Association to study cannabis for PTSD, depression and a number of other diseases veterans often suffer from.

Despite broad bipartisan support, however, neither proposal has reached a floor vote in either chamber.

“The VA keeps saying, ‘We have the authority, we don’t need you to micromanage us.’ But we do — because they’re not doing their job,” Correa said.

Correa’s bill advanced out of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Thursday.

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