The Department of Veterans Affairs has voiced its opposition to three bills that are intended to protect the VA benefits of veterans who use medical cannabis in states where it is legal, allow VA doctors to prescribe medical cannabis in states where it is legal and also expand research into the medical potential of cannabis.
The VA officials were speaking during a congressional hearing on Tuesday (April 30). For example, Keita Franklin (suicide prevention national director in the VA department) was of the view that the bill compelling the VA department to conduct research on the medical benefits and risks of cannabis was “too ambitious and risky” because a large number of human subjects would be involved.
Franklin also cited the guidance provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration to the effect that VA medical personnel aren’t allowed to prescribe medical marijuana in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Furthermore, the VA officials explained that they are also opposed to the bill which seeks to protect the VA benefits of veterans who consume medical cannabis in states where it is legal because the department already has a policy to that effect.
However, the sponsor of the bill insisted that the policy referred to isn’t sufficient since another administration can decide to reverse it. The best option is to write those protections into law, the lawmakers argued.
Several military veterans’ advocacy groups were also represented and expressed strong support for all the bills. The groups included Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
The strongest support among these advocacy groups was directed towards the bill seeking for more research into the therapeutic effects of marijuana.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars was however concerned that the VA wouldn’t be able to avail medical cannabis at its health facilities even if a policy shift occurred to permit doctors to prescribe medical marijuana. For this reason, the group wasn’t in support of the bill that intends to allow VA doctors to prescribe cannabis.
Some lawmakers were frustrated by the continuous stonewalling exhibited by the VA each time marijuana is up for discussion. The lawmakers suggested that it may be necessary to push for cannabis rescheduling since any bill that is passed will need the approval of the DEA, and the same response (rejection) will be given.
Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) and Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) can’t wait for the day when the debate on medical marijuana will focus on facts and the needs of the intended beneficiaries rather than on politics.
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