A bipartisan measure introduced this week in the House would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to research whether marijuana is a viable substitute for highly addictive opioids in treating former military personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress and chronic pain.
The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018 would initiate a five-year study to examine the drug’s safety and efficacy, and require VA researchers to compile annual status reports for Congress. The bill was introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), the ranking minority-party member of the committee, along with 35 co-sponsors — including seven Republicans. Companion legislation is under review by leaders of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
“As a physician, I’m keenly aware of the need to look for opioid alternatives to treat patients’ chronic pain,” Roe said in a statement. “I’ve heard from many veterans, both with physical and invisible wounds, who believe medical cannabis could benefit them.”