Photo courtesy VFW

VFW: The VA is allowed to research marijuana, here's why they aren't.

Eric Dehm
February 09, 2018 - 9:59 am

There are several interested parties in the continuing discussion around the VA conducting research on medical marijuana.

We have the VA itself which has thus far refused to conduct any research citing a variety of issues. You have the federal government which, under the guidance of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recently announced their intention to crack down on marijuana, even in places where it's been legalizaed.  And you have the veteran community, while not in total agreement on what should be done, appears to be largely in favor of conducting research at the very least.

According to the VFW's Associate Director of Legislative Issues Kayda Keleher, a Marine Corps veteran, the data that's come back on exactly how much support there is for this issue from the veteran community might surprise people. It certainly surprised her.

"There have been surveys done that show 90% of the veteran population support medical marijuana and research on it," Keleher said during an appearing on Morning Briefing. "That number was crazy to me, I thought that was much higher than I anticipated it being."

While the number may hve been a surprise, the data was taken into account, and discussions were had at the VFW's 2017 national convention in New Orleans. Conersations that led to the inclusion of support for medical marijuana being included in the organization's resolutions, which reads: "BE IT RESOLVED, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States that we support the use of Medical Cannabis for Veterans being treated by the Veterans Administration." 

That's a strong statement, going so far as to say they support the use, but to get to that point, research would have to be done, and Keleher says that's not happening for a variety of reasons ranging from the mundane and bureaucratic, to those bordering on the bizarre. For an example oh the latter, you can look to the low quality weed being grown at the government's sole legal provider. 

"There's only one legal grower for federal studies and that's in Mississippi of all places," Keleher said. "They have horticulture students at the University of Mississippi growing medicinal marijuana, and the THC count in that marijuana is so low it's not actually usable for research purposes. And because it's so low and not usable, it's not being shipped very frequently, they have to ship the oldest weed that they have so by the time researchers get their shipment it's moldy and even more unusable." 

That's just one of many obstacles, some self-created, that's caused the VA to drag its feet on conducting medical marijuana research, outlined by Keleher during her appearance on the show. You can listen to the full interview below.

To listen, click play to stream or select share and select download from the options to save to your device and listen later. 

 

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