A group of 10 lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives is urging President Trump’s administration to start research on the potential benefits of medical Marijuana for America’s military veterans who are suffering from chronic pain as a result of war wounds. The lawmakers, who are members of House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, wrote a letter on Thursday to Secretary David Shulkin, Veteran Affairs.

Within the letter, the group stated that the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) is in the ideal position to research marijuana for its effectiveness as a treatment for veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain, according to Stars and Stripes.

Opioid crisis a basis for pursuing alternative treatments for veterans

The lawmakers mentioned the increasing request for treatment options expressed by veterans’ organizations and from veterans. They also emphasized the opioid crisis as a reason for alternative treatments. The group noted, too, that the VA’s researching medicinal marijuana is essential for advancing health care for both veterans and the country. Forbes stated that there have been recent studies indicating legal access to cannabis correlates with “reduced overdose and addiction rates.”

Representative Tim Walz (D-MN), the committee’s ranking Democrat, is also a retired command sergeant major, Minnesota Army National Guard. Walz stated that it is currently “critically important” for the research, Forbes reported.

He stated that the opioid epidemic has hurt veterans more than most populations adversely affected by opioids.

He noted that both meeting with and hearing from our nation’s veterans and veterans’ advocates affirms that research, along with access to medicinal marijuana, is crucial.

He stated that both the study and access are vital “veterans’ issues.”

VA is known for its cutting-edge medical treatments

The VA has previously received credit for its breakthroughs affecting the “first successful liver transplant,” the shingles vaccine, and the cardiac pacemaker, Stars and Stripes, noted. The medical advancements have been achieved following the creation of the VA’s research office in 1925.

The House committee’s press secretary, Griffin Anderson, stated that research into medical marijuana has the potential to provide information that may benefit care that everyone could receive, in addition to possibly helping veterans. With the VA’s access to top-notch researchers, combined with the demographic being served and its decades-long history in effecting “cutting-edge medical treatments,” the letter pointed out that the VA is “uniquely situated” to advance research, according to Forbes.

American Legion seeks research from VA on medicinal marijuana

The American Legion, as well as medical marijuana advocates, have recently turned up the pressure on the VA. The veterans groups and marijuana proponents want the VA to discontinue obstructing researchers, who are federally approved, from drawing on veteran-candidates to commence research on medicinal marijuana, Forbes noted.

One instance cited is that a study of the effects of marijuana on PTSD was “prevented from reaching veterans” at the Phoenix, AZ, VA hospital.

Lawmakers, American Legion following lead ‘State of the VA’ conveyed in May

In May, Shulkin, a practicing physician, remarked at the White House during a “State of the VA,” Forbes relayed, that he recognizes “some evidence” of marijuana’s efficacy as a medicinal treatment. He also stated that he was receptive to learning more. With that said, the American Legion has beefed up its advocacy, urging more research be conducted as it relates to medical marijuana.

One of the Legion’s leaders, Louis Celli, stated that the group is striving to show lawmakers that the topic is no longer taboo and is “politically safe,” Stars and Stripes reported.

The suicide rate among veterans, the complexity and dynamics of PTSD, and the opioid crisis lend credence and a sound basis for more research. A staff member assisting committee Democrats, Megan Bland, stated that it makes sense that “if there’s a solution, we should explore it.”

The group of lawmakers anticipates a response from Shulkin by November 14. They want a commitment for the VA to research medicinal marijuana or a “detailed reason” why the VA can’t conduct research, according to Stars and Stripes. Bland asserted that every indicator is that the VA can “pursue this tomorrow.” If the VA responds that it cannot commence research, she said the committee will endeavor to assist the VA in overcoming obstacles next year.

The start of a “snowball” is how Celli characterized the lawmakers’ letter, which was sent yesterday. He told Stars and Stripes that Walz is a “major player,” respective of Representative Walz’s stature in the “veteran community,” Stars and Strips wrote. He further stated that the government can “pretend it’s not coming to critical mass.”