Robert Couse-Baker

Bipartisan Lawmakers Ask VA Secretary to Research MMJ as Opioid Alternative

A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers sent a letter last week asking the Department of Veterans Affairs to investigate medical cannabis as an alternative medication for opioids, according to a Stars and Stripes report.

Reps. Phil Roe (R-Tennessee) and Tim Walz (D-Minnesota) and Sens. Dan Sullivan, (R-Alaska) and Jon Tester (D-Montana) co-signed the letter, addressed to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, and called for the launch of a “rigorous clinical trial” of the plant’s medicinal effectiveness and safety.

“We believe VA has the authority, ability and capacity to carry out such a study. Many of our nation’s veterans already use medicinal cannabis, and they deserve to have full knowledge of the potential benefits and side effects of this alternative therapy.” — Bipartisan lawmakers, in letter to VA Sec. Robert Wilkie

Wilkie, sworn into the office in July, is relatively new as VA Secretary and it’s still not known where he stands on the issue. Many consider the letter to be a gauge of Wilkie’s medical cannabis position.

“I think this is an opportunity to get him on the record and get a more clear understanding of what his perception is about how the VA can conduct cannabis research,” Eric Goepel, founder of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition, told Stars and Stripes.

Reps. Roe and Walz introduced legislation earlier this year that clarifies the VA’s authority to conduct such a study. The House committee unanimously approved the bill in May but it is unclear when (or if) it will make it to the House floor.

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Based in Portland, Oregon, Graham oversees our daily news coverage and coordinates our editorial content. He also writes articles of his own and conducts our written interviews with leading cannabis experts.

 

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