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VA Would Study Medical Marijuana Benefits For Military Veterans With PTSD Under New GOP-Led Bill



A Republican congresswoman has reintroduced a bill meant to promote research into the medical potential of marijuana for military veterans.

The Veterans Cannabis Analysis, Research, and Effectiveness (CARE) Act, filed last week by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), identical to an earlier measure she sponsored last session.

That bill would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to “conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety of forms of cannabis” for chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and “other conditions the Secretary determines appropriate.”

The legislation specifies that the VA studies must involve plants and extracts, at least three varieties of cannabis with different concentrations of THC and CBD and “varying methods of cannabis delivery, including topical application, combustable and non-combustable inhalation, and ingestion.”

VA would first have to submit a research plan to House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees and make any requests to support the studies. Over the course of five years after the bill is enacted, VA would need to send annual reports on its progress to the panels.

On the Senate side, a committee approved a separate bill in February to promote research into the therapeutic effects of marijuana for military veterans with certain conditions. However, Senate Republicans blocked a procedural motion to advance it to the floor last month.

House companion version of the standalone legislation was filed by Reps. Lou Correa (D-CA) and Jack Bergman (R-MI) days before the Senate committee approval.

A previous version of that legislation cleared a House committee in 2021, despite the protests of VA officials who argued that it was unduly prescriptive. Earlier iterations of the measure also moved through committee in 2020 and 2018 as well, but none were enacted into law.

Correa had a conversation with VA Secretary Denis McDonough about the issue of marijuana and veterans last year, and so there were some heightened expectations that the department might reverse course on the legislation—but that hasn’t happened to date.

A coalition of more than 20 veterans service organizations (VSOs) sent a letter to congressional leaders late last year to urge the passage of a marijuana and veterans research bill before the end of the last Congress. But that did not pan out.

Also, a large-scale defense spending bill that was enacted at the end of the last session excluded separate language from a previously House-passed version that would have authorized VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis to veterans living in legal states.

Meanwhile, bipartisan House and Senate lawmakers recently refiled bills to legalize medical marijuana for military veterans.

The legislation would temporarily allow veterans to legally possess and use cannabis under federal law, as recommended by doctors in accordance with state law. Physicians with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would also be allowed for the first time to issue such recommendations.

Further, the measure would authorize VA to study the therapeutic potential of marijuana for pain and PTSD.

Congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been proactive about introducing cannabis reform legislation this session.

For example, bipartisan measures to protect banks that service state-legal cannabis businesses were introduced in both chambers, with the Senate version already getting a hearing.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) filed a bill last month to protect the Second Amendment rights of people who use marijuana in legal states, allowing them to purchase and possess firearms that they’re currently prohibited from having under federal law.

Mast is also cosponsoring a separate bill from Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) this session that would more narrowly allow medical cannabis patients to purchase and possess firearms.

Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have filed a bill to incentive state and local marijuana expungements with a federal grant program.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) filed a measure last month that would allow state-legal cannabis businesses to claim federal tax deductions that are available to other industries. He told Marijuana Moment that he believes the reform would ultimately generate revenue for the government.

Joyce and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) recently filed a measure designed to prepare the federal government for marijuana legalization, directing the attorney general to form a commission to study and make recommendations about regulating cannabis in a way similar to alcohol.

Read the full text of the new veterans cannabis research bill below:

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