In some states, cannabis is used not only for medical purpose but for recreational purpose too. Canada was one of the first countries to legalize medical and recreational cannabis. In the United States, the battle to legalize weed is still on. Some states such as Florida have already legalized medical cannabis use. A few states already followed the move and more are expected to follow in a few years’ time.
Various studies and research were made and revealed that about 80% of people seek cannabis for pain management. About 35% of patients prescribed with opioid drugs for pain management also use cannabis. More than one-third of medical cannabis users have post-traumatic stress disorder and it is the primary reason for the request. About 15% of veterans treated in Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient post-traumatic stress disorder clinics report recent cannabis use.
What is the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act?
Veterans are among the people who deal with a lot of health issues such as chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorders, to name a few. To address such concerns, the members of Congress are set to meet to discuss bills that could allow veterans to use marijuana for medical purposes. These bills are the following:
- VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act – It directs the Veterans Affair’s secretary to conduct a clinical trial about the effects of cannabis on the management of chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.
- Veterans Equal Access Act – It enables the Veterans Affair’s doctors to come up with a recommendation and opinion on participating in the state marijuana programs.
- VA Survey of Cannabis Use Act – It requires the Veterans Affairs to enter an agreement with the research and development center funded by the federal government. Specifically, a nationwide survey should be done to assess the cannabis use by veterans.
- A bill requiring VA to conduct training in the use of medical cannabis along with medical schools; specifically, mandating them to incorporate education on medical cannabis into their curriculum.
Although the Veterans Affairs is actively taking steps towards using marijuana as a treatment remedy for health conditions experienced by veterans, still it strongly opposes proposed medical marijuana legislation. Marijuana belongs to the Schedule I drug category and as long as the drug category will not change, the VA leadership will follow the regulations set by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Justice. The opinion of these agencies is the one that matters the most.
The Demand for Medicinal Cannabis for Veteran Patients
The number of veterans suffering from opioid addiction, prescription pill overdose, and committing suicide continues to increase at an alarming rate. This problem can be addressed only if the federal government will make changes to the federal law enabling medical cannabis to be used as a treatment option for veterans. If the veterans fail to get the care and support they need from the Veterans Affairs, they would surely go around it. Hence, it is important for the Veterans Affairs doctors to provide a holistic care to veterans and it includes treatment plans involving medical cannabis.
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