For the past few years, attitudes towards cannabis have been shifting. Although it is still illegal at the federal level, the narrative isn’t as dire as it used to be. We now know that the cannabis plant produces a group of chemicals called cannabinoids that have potent and diverse medical properties. We also know that taken consistently and at a reasonable dosage, cannabis can alleviate a ton of conditions, ranging from insomnia and anxiety to chronic pain.
However, the road hasn’t been easy. A number of states have legalized medical and recreational marijuana use, but the fact that it’s illegal at the federal level doesn’t help matters. Medical marijuana has still come a long way, though, and it might go even further thanks to a pair of key bills that were recently approved by a Congressional committee.
The bills expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana. One would allow Veteran Affairs (VA) doctors to issue medical marijuana prescriptions in states with legal programs. They currently aren’t allowed to do so. The other bill would direct the VA to conduct a clinical trial to test the efficacy of marijuana in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and other health issues veterans are likely to get.
“We have been working for years to give veterans the opportunity to receive legal medical cannabis treatment for chronic pain and PTSD. Even though this has been approved on the floor of the House in the past as an amendment to appropriations bills, it has been stonewalled by the Senate Republican leadership. This is the way forward to guarantee it becomes the law of the land,” says Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who introduced the first bill.
Currently, veterans can only access medical marijuana if they choose to go outside their VA network and cover all the costs out of pocket. The VA department accepts this arrangement as stated on its website. Its leadership has also stated that it will follow the example set by the federal government, which holds that marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug.
According to Don Murphy, the director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, passing these bills should be the first order of business for a ‘Congress that prides itself on supporting our veterans.’
“Like every American, veterans should be granted the freedom to access cannabis to treat their medical conditions as an alternative to potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals,” Don Murphy asserts.
Former VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin states that there is growing evidence that properly prescribed medical marijuana may have some real benefits in anxiety improvement, pain management and potentially, in the issue of substance abuse.
“I think the time is now. I believe that the VA should be involved in research on anything that could potentially help veterans and improve their health and well-being,” says Shulkin.
The bills still have a long way to go before they become law, so experts think cannabis companies like SinglePoint Inc. (OTCQB: SING) will only be happy once veterans are allowed by law to consider medical marijuana for their needs.
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