A federal commission that was asked to generate recommendations which will help to improve how military veterans suffering from mental health issues are treated has come to an unexpected conclusion urging the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. federal government to do everything possible to ease research into psychedelics and marijuana.
After months of meetings, the commission, named Creating Options for Veterans’ Expedited Recovery (“COVER”), released its findings in a report authored in January. Surprisingly, this report hasn’t drawn as much attention as it deserves among the marijuana law reform movement and the media.
The panel, led by Jake Leinenkugel (a presidential nominee), asserted that psychedelics, such as MDMA and psilocybin, as well as marijuana, present promising ways to treat mental health conditions among military veterans.
The panel also noted that while medical marijuana and some psychedelics have been used while treating military veterans, the Schedule 1 status of these substances prevents the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) from doing any research about the efficacy or risks of these treatment options.
Furthermore, the scheduling status of psychedelics and marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act makes it very hard for entities interested in doing research to obtain regulatory approval for the planned studies. The researchers are required to get permission from many federal government agencies, and some of those agencies are openly opposed to any medicinal use of marijuana.
The supply of research-grade marijuana, together with other controlled substances, is woefully inadequate. Reports also indicate that the marijuana available from the sole government-approved supplier in Mississippi is chemically closer to industrial hemp than to the marijuana which is available in the retail dispensaries in states where marijuana has been legalized.
For this reason, the COVER panel recommends that the legislature and the executive arms of the federal government compels NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) to develop varieties of marijuana whose THC content is at par with the medical marijuana that patients are accessing in states with enabling marijuana laws. This will ensure that researchers engage in research whose findings have relevance to the community.
The panel also wrote that using medical marijuana and psychedelics as treatment options for military veterans has cost implications and yet there is limited information about the efficacy and risks associated with these products. The VA was therefore urged to conduct rigorous research so that answers can be obtained about medical cannabis and psychedelics.
In the same vein, physicians working with the VA need to be equipped with research-based information about cannabis, MDMA and psilocybin so that they can have meaningful discussions with the military veterans in their care.
Since the panel has members selected by the President and those co-opted by Congressional leaders, analysts say sector companies like Pure Extracts Corp. hope the report will be given the seriousness it deserves and prompt action taken to correct the problems identified.
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