Veterans, Dems Push for Medical Marijuana Use

Washington Report

(October 31, 2017) A group of veterans is pushing Congress and the administration of President Donald Trump to allow the use of marijuana to treat issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, Democrats are asking the Department of Veterans Affairs to undertake research into the plant’s effectiveness.

Nick Etten, a retired Navy SEAL and executive director of the Veterans Cannabis Project, told Air Force Times last week, “It’s a political issue. It’s a security issue. But for veterans, this is just a health issue. We need to convince [elected officials] to treat this for what it is: an effective medicinal plant that could be a game-changer.”

Members of Etten’s organization have been on Capitol Hill asking lawmakers to push the administration to take action that would clarify the benefits of marijuana, which is illegal under federal law, but legal for recreational or medicinal use in 26 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The veterans say laws already allow for such efforts.

“They can do more now to learn about this,” Etten said. “But all this is being held up now because some politicians are putting ideology in front of the health of veterans.”

In a letter last week, Democrats on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee asked the VA to “fulfill its stated mission” by investigating the potential use of marijuana as an alternative to addictive opioids.

“VA’s pursuit of research into the impact of medical marijuana . . . is integral to the advancement of health care for veterans and the nation,” they wrote.

Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., the committee’s ranking member, said in a statement, “Time and time again, I have heard the stories of veterans who have used marijuana medicinally to help them cope with physical and psychological injuries sustained during their service. I now know for a fact that research and access to medical marijuana has become a critically important veterans’ issue.”