The ranking Republican congressman responsible for veterans affairs has once again introduced legislation directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to research the potential applications of medical marijuana to treat issues like post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, the Veterans Affairs Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019 would require the VA “to conduct and support” research on medical marijuana, according to a Thursday statement form HVAC.
  • “It is imperative that clinicians have data on utilizing cannabis as a treatment option so that they can properly advise their patients on potential side-effects,” Roe, a doctor and veteran of the U.S. Army Medical Corps, said in a statement.
  • “If research on the usage of medical cannabis is favorable, I am confident that it could become another option to help improve the lives of veterans and other Americans,” he added.
  • Roe introduced similar legislation last year to address what T&P's James Clark characterized at the time as the VA's tendency to whiff on issues pertaining to medical marijuana issues “in favor of citing hazy policy and vague restrictions.”
  • While Roe's 2018 legislation went nowhere, this year's stab at forcing the VA's hand on medical marijuana research comes less than a week after Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Ark.) introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
  • “H.R. 747 contains the exact same bipartisan language that was passed through committee unanimously last Congress, except the language is stronger,” HVAC spokeswoman Molly Jenkins told Task & Purpose. “The text of the bill says that VA 'shall' conduct research, previously the language said 'may' conduct research.”
  • A 2017 poll of veterans and veteran caregivers conduced at the behest of the American Legion found that an eye-polling 92% of respondents supported expanded research into the medical benefits of the marijuana, eclipsing the 82% who supported the broader legalization efforts in general.

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