Sending Office: Honorable J. Luis Correa
Sent By:
Emilio.Mendez@mail.house.gov

SUPPORT RESEARCH ON MEDICAL CANNABIS FOR VETERANS 

DEADLINE – NOON @ MARCH 15

COSIGNERS: Blumenauer

Dear Colleague,

Please join us in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies to include language in their FY19 Committee Report that urges the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pursue scientific
and medical research on the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis usage for veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and veterans diagnosed with chronic pain.

Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico permit some form of medical cannabis use. For many veterans residing in those areas, current treatment methods have proven ineffective and, therefore, a substantial number have used
medical cannabis as an alternative option. While data is limited, it has been reported that an estimated nine percent of the veteran population currently use cannabis and 41 percent of those veterans reported having used cannabis medically. Meanwhile, a recent
survey conducted by The American Legion, the nation’s largest, congressionally-chartered veteran service organization, saw 92 percent of survey respondents support medical cannabis research.

Evidently, there are gaps in veteran healthcare that could be filled by medicinal cannabis usage. However, physicians have no federally approved research on which to base their recommendations, clinical opinions, or prescriptions. As a result, medical research
into the safety and efficacy of cannabis usage for medical purposes is both timely and necessary.

VA is uniquely positioned to produce cutting-edge, scientifically-sound, clinically necessary, and life-saving research. For this reason, we ask you to join us in sending the below letter encouraging the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs,
and Related Agencies to include report language to promote medical cannabis research within VA.

If you have questions or would like to sign onto the letter, please contact Emilio Mendez in the office of Congressman J. Luis Correa at
Emilio.Mendez@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

 

J. Luis Correa                                      Tim Walz

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

Dear Chairman Dent and Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz:

As you consider the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we respectfully request language be included in the accompanying Committee Report to promote scientific and medical research on the
safety and efficacy of medical cannabis usage by veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and veterans diagnosed with chronic pain.

In 1925, Congress established the Veterans Health Administration Office of Research and Development (ORD) to facilitate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ fulfillment of its research and development program’s mission “to discover knowledge and create
innovations that advance health care for Veterans and the Nation.” Since its inception, ORD has earned a reputation as a leader in research and development. The ability of ORD to produce cutting-edge, scientifically-sound, clinically necessary, and life-saving
research is undeniable. For this reason, and in keeping with its mission, ORD should be responsible for determining the safety and efficacy of cannabis-usage on our nation’s heroes.

Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico offer access to medical cannabis for those with physician recommendations. While data is limited, it has been reported that an estimated nine percent of the veteran population currently
use cannabis and 41 percent of those veterans reported having used cannabis medically. This is more than double the percentage of civilians using cannabis for medicinal purposes. The American Legion, the nation’s largest, congressionally-chartered veteran
service organization, conducted a survey in October 2017 on a portion of its 2.2 million veteran members and found that 92 percent of all respondents support medical cannabis research and 82 percent of all respondents support legalizing medical cannabis. Therefore,
it is evident that medical research into the safety and efficacy of cannabis usage for medical purposes is timely, necessary, and supported by the veteran community.

It is also clear that there are gaps in veteran healthcare that could be filled by medicinal cannabis usage. However, while physicians nationwide and within VA can discuss cannabis usage with their patients, they have no federally approved research on which
to base recommendations, clinical opinions, or prescriptions. As so many veterans are currently using cannabis for medicinal purposes, it is important that clinicians be able to fully advise veterans on the impacts, harms, and benefits of cannabis use on various
diagnoses, including post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. We therefore ask the Subcommittee to include the following language in its FY19 Committee Report:

The Committee recognizes that continued focus on the discovery of treatment alternatives for veterans diagnosed with various conditions such as chronic pain and PTSD are essential to reducing the number of veteran suicides. For this reason, the Committee
urges VA to utilize funds, in an amount deemed appropriate by the Secretary, to prioritize investments in research on the efficacy and safety of cannabis usage among the veteran population for medicinal purposes. The Committee also requests a report, within
180 days after the implementation of this Act, by the Secretary containing a detailed plan on how the Department of Veterans Affairs expects to pursue the above-mentioned research. The Committee also urges VA to ensure any research conducted or supported by
VA on the above-mentioned topic is preserved in a manner that will facilitate further research.

Since 2014, when it was first reported by VA that an average of 20 veterans commit suicide per day, Congress, VA, and veteran advocates nationwide have focused their attention on reducing veteran suicide. However, the available data suggests that current
clinical treatment for PTSD and chronic pain could be negating our hard work. For this reason, we ask you include the above-mentioned veteran-centric language, which will enable the much-needed pursuit of potentially lifesaving research.

We appreciate your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, HealthCare, Science, Veterans

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