By Dalton Rosario
A new cannabis bill proposed this week by the Senate requires the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to actively study the medical benefits of cannabis for prescription use in the treatments for our veterans. According to statistics from Military Benefit’s PTSD Awareness Day: an estimated 44 million veterans develop PTSD symptoms and suffer from a number of ailments revolving around traumatic brain injury and chronic pain. Within the U.S. half of all mental health patients have been diagnosed with PTSD.
The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act is a bipartisan piece of legislation filed by Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) and Clay Higgins (R-LA), which follows the first Senate cannabis bill of the 116th Congress filed just the week prior. Said legislation was authored by bi-partisan partners Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK). As remarked in a press release by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), “Rather than risk becoming dependent on opioids, these veterans find relief in medical cannabis… With the opioid crisis raging across America, it is imperative to the health and safety of our veterans that we find alternative treatments for chronic pain and service-related injuries.” As stated these efforts attempt to target the severity of opioid abuse for our veterans and the rates of addiction exhibited within our country. Many states have begun mobilizing lawmakers and passing legislation that places precedence upon medical clinics, physicians and certified practitioners utilizing cannabis as a healthy alternative for pain-relieving opioids. Most recently earlier this week in New Jersey, the state Department of Health declared that physicians may immediately begin recommending medical cannabis for opioid addiction. Similar treatment plans have been written into law in New York and Pennsylvania. Our veterans deserve the very best methods available on the market. If that includes cannabis as their preference of choice - so be it.