After an address to the American Legion by U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, he announced that this veterans’ affairs leader supports medical marijuana research. Roe addressed the veterans group at its conference in Washington, D.C. on February 27. Roe, a Republican, represents Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District. His speech to vets did not mention medical marijuana.
But afterward, Roe spoke with reporters, it was reported by Stars and Stripes. During that conversation, he said he supported research into medical marijuana by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“There is so much controversy about cannabis now,” said Roe. “We need to study that drug, like any other drug. Where there are benefits — if there are any — then we use it for what it’s researched for.”
Roe is an important congressional advocate for veterans’ issues. He is the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, as well.
He also said that he will support VA Secretary David Shulkin if he approves cannabis research.
“I would support [Shulkin] if he did it. I will make that clear,” Roe said.
The VA has the ability to study cannabis as medicine better than other bodies tackling the issue, Roe believes.
“We don’t need state legislators making medical decisions, we need medical people making medical decisions,” he told reporters.
Roe and Shulkin are both physicians.
In Step with Democratic Colleagues
Roe’s remarks are similar to those of his colleague, Rep. Tim Walz from Minnesota. Walz is the senior Democratic member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
In October, Walz and other Democrats sent a letter to Shulkin. In it, they asked the secretary to instruct the VA to begin medical marijuana research.
The lawmakers noted that many veterans had contacted them about the issue. The vets want new options to combat serious medical issues such as chronic pain and PTSD. They also want research into the potential of cannabis to fight opioid addiction.
Final Hit: This Veterans’ Affairs Leader Supports Medical Marijuana Research
The VA is currently authorized to research medical marijuana, according to Shulkin. But VA doctors will have to wait before they start writing prescriptions for their patients. The secretary also attended the American Legion conference and talked with reporters about medical marijuana.
“Right, I do believe the VA is now able to do research. There are many, many barriers and steps that one has to take. But VA, while it takes a long time, is moving forward in some of those research studies. We have one in Charleston right now that we’re trying to get approved through the appropriate channels.
I do believe that researching and studying anything that could potentially help our veterans is consistent with our mission and we should be looking at that. But we are going to have to adhere to federal law in terms of prescribing, until a time that law would change.”
Shulkin said that despite the obstacles, VA research into medical marijuana could begin as soon as this year.
“It’s difficult to do the research, but we are putting in applications, and we’re committed to studying anything that would potentially help veterans.”