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Legislation proposes clinical medical marijuana trials for veterans

Veterans Medical Marijuana
Posted at 9:52 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 21:54:36-04

CINCINNATI — The medical use of cannabis is now making its way into pieces of legislation on Capitol Hill with a target to research further use in treating veterans.

Senate Bill 1467 and House Bill 2916, known as the "VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2021," each direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a series of clinical trials on the effects of cannabis on certain health outcomes of veterans with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.

When Homefront took a closer look at veterans seeking out medical cannabis in October 2019, which is not an option through the VA medical system, we found veterans seeking alternatives to traditional pharmaceuticals.

Nicholas Schneider was a veteran willing to discuss his issues with post-traumatic stress, saying he noticed a difference after his first month on medical marijuana.

"I call it a great supplement," Schneider said. "It doesn't replace everything, specifically therapy and things like that. It's allowing me to get off of pharmaceuticals that you know have really negative side effects."

At the time, Dr. James Weeks, who owns One Heart Medical, said veterans were coming through his door looking for relief outside of the VA.

"15% of my patients are veterans," Weeks said. "They range from mid-twenties to sixties, seventies and the majority of the time when those patients are coming to the clinic, the reasons that they're seeking help is for PTSD and chronic pain."

Weeks works with those veterans to come up with the best variety of medical cannabis to treat each veteran's specific issues or concerns. It's something the VA continues to push back on online, citing on their website in part that "...Cannabis is not recommended for the treatment of PTSD."

There's concern that the federal government still deems marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, making it illegal.

The non-profit Disabled American Veterans (DAV) said it feels as though it is time to begin the process to further explore the benefits of the drug as it pertains to chronic pain, PTSD and other potential uses.

"We always want to see what is out there that can help our members better happier healthier when it comes down to their service-connected disabilities," said Marquis Barefield, DAV's assistant national legislative director.

The group has notified its members that it supports the two bills.

"We do what we can when we find legislation that we can support to let our members know ... here is something that is potentially good for you or something you have asked for that we think is good legislation, and be sure to let your legislators know that," Barefield said.

The bills haven't moved beyond committee since November 2021. Skopos Labs, which provides the prognosis of any bill and its ability to move forward, says there's a 3% chance of the legislation being enacted.

At the time this article was posted, there were no co-sponsors to either bill from Ohio, Indiana or Kentucky.

If you have a veteran story to tell in your community, email homefront@wcpo.com. You also can join the Homefront Facebook group, follow Craig McKee on Facebook and find more Homefront stories here.

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