A Senate committee on Wednesday held a hearing on a bill to require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct clinical trials into the therapeutic potential of marijuana for military veterans with PTSD and chronic pain—but a VA representative said that the Biden administration is opposed to the reform.
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee discussed the cannabis proposal, sponsored by Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), at the hearing, along with 20 other veterans-related bills.
While VA officials gave the agency’s perspective on most of the other bills listed at the hearing, they did not orally weigh in on the marijuana measure. Instead, VA offered written testimony in opposition to the proposal.
Despite bipartisan support for giving veterans access to alternative treatment options like cannabis, VA Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Health for Community Care Mark Upton said plainly that the agency “does not support this proposed legislation.”
VA isn’t necessarily opposing cannabis research for veterans overall, but it argued that the proposed legislation is unnecessary because it is “already dedicating resources and research expertise to study the effects of cannabis on conditions affecting veterans.”
The testimony states that “the proposed legislation is redundant to the extent that VA is already examining risks and benefits of cannabis in treating PTSD and chronic pain” and is “not consistent with VA’s practice of ensuring scientific merit as the basis for a randomized clinical trial.”
VA took particular issue with a provision included in the measure that would require it to study “at least seven types of cannabis and their effects on symptoms of PSTD and chronic pain.”
Upton, who was appointed to the role under the Trump administration in 2020 but continues to serve under President Joe Biden, said that directive “is not consistent with the current