FDA Head Refuses To Say Whether or not Marijuana Is Extra Harmful Than Tobacco

A Senate committee held a hearing Wednesday on a bill requiring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct clinical trials of the therapeutic potential of marijuana for military veterans with PTSD and chronic pain – but a VA representative said the Biden said -Government is against reform.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee at the hearing discussed the cannabis proposal sponsored by Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), as well as 20 other veteran bills.

While VA officials gave the agency’s perspective on most of the other bills listed at the hearing, they did not make any oral statements about the marijuana measure. Instead, VA offered a written testimony against the proposal.

Despite bipartisan support to give veterans access to alternative treatment options such as cannabis, Mark Upton, deputy under-secretary of state for community health, clearly stated that the agency “does not support this bill.”

The VA is not necessarily against cannabis research for veterans as a whole, but argued that the proposed legislation was unnecessary as it “already provides resources and research expertise to study the effects of cannabis on veteran conditions”.

The testimony stated that “the proposed legislation is redundant in that VA is already studying the risks and benefits of cannabis in the treatment of PTSD and chronic pain” and “inconsistent with VA practice, scientific merit as a basis for one randomized clinical trial ”. . “

VA had particular problem with a provision included in the policy that required that “at least seven types of cannabis and their effects on symptoms of PSTD and chronic pain” be investigated.

Upton, who was appointed to the role under the Trump administration in 2020 but continues to serve under President Joe Biden, said the guideline “is inconsistent with current scientific knowledge, suggesting smaller, controlled clinical trials In the early stages, having a focused set of specific goals is optimal for establishing a proof of concept for the use of cannabis in the treatment of certain diseases. “

“VA has reviewed and examined the current clinical evidence for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and agrees that more research is needed,” he wrote. “VA has used the scientific peer review system and is currently supporting a clinical study with CBD for the treatment of PTSD, in which CBD is used as an additional treatment to standard psychotherapy. The results of this study should be available next year. “

The cannabis measure discussed in the hearing specifically requires VA to conduct a series of clinical studies – rather than just one study, as was the case with an earlier version introduced in the last Congress – and also sets specific guidelines for research the effects of several strains of marijuana with different concentrations of THC and CBD.

Tester, the chair of the committee and sponsor of the bill, said in opening remarks that the move “expands research into alternative treatments for veterans suffering from the visible and invisible wounds of war.”

“A survey conducted by the American Legion tells us that 22 percent of veterans who responded are already using cannabis to treat a disease,” he said. “Our bill will help the VA obtain the necessary data to fully evaluate this treatment and educate veterans about the results of using medicinal cannabis to treat certain medical conditions.”

Upton’s written testimony argues that “the peer-reviewed scientific system would not prefer to examine seven varieties of cannabis and their effects on different diagnoses without first demonstrating a specific rationale for each of the questions.”

“Advances in cannabis research must begin with a scientific query of what is already known for certain diagnostic categories of interest and then move on to the next clinical investigation,” said Upton.

“VA has a long history of science-based research and high quality clinical studies that have advanced health care for veterans and the nation. VA’s Research and Development Bureau regularly funds clinical studies that are approved through its expert peer review system, which evaluates studies for scientific merit based on the rationale, design, and feasibility of the study proposal. Such studies already include medical uses of cannabis in diseases affecting veterans. “

At a House hearing in 2019, VA officials under Trump spoke out against a number of cannabis laws, including the earlier version of the one presented to the Senate panel on Wednesday.

The VA secretary “will conduct a series of clinical studies on the effects of medicinal cannabis on the health outcomes of insured veterans with chronic pain and insured veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder,” reads the text of the current bill. It lists “required elements” of the studies as well as “optional elements” that the department might add.

When it comes to chronic pain studies, the agency would need to investigate the effects of marijuana use on osteopathic pain, opioid use and dosage, benzodiazepine use and dosage, alcohol use, inflammation, quality of sleep, restlessness, and quality of life.

For the PTSD-specific studies, VA would examine the extent to which cannabis affects the basic symptoms of the disease, benzodiazepine use and dosage, alcohol consumption, mood, anxiety, social functioning, arousal, suicidal thoughts, and quality of sleep.

At 3 p.m. @SVACDems @SVACGOP will hold a hearing on many of the IAVA supported bills, including the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2021 (p.1467). Tune in below and let Congress know it needs to pass this important bill: 👇https: //t.co/Xls736HIKs #CannabisForVets https://t.co/Grikh741Nv

– IAVA (@iava) June 23, 2021

Optionally, the clinical trials can include “an assessment of the effects of using cannabis to treat chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder on” lung function, cardiovascular events, various cancers, intestinal inflammation, car accidents, mania, psychosis, cannabinoid hypermesis syndrome, neuropathy or spasticity.

The bill provides further details on specific methodological standards of the required clinical trials. For example, it would mandate that researchers use “no fewer than seven unique plant varieties” with certain THC and CBD ratios. This previous version of the bill in last Congress only required three different strains of marijuana.

The trials will include “whole plant raw materials and extracts”. However, the measure no longer provides for “different methods of cannabis delivery, including flammable and non-flammable inhalation and ingestion”, as was the case with the previous version.

Veterans groups endorsed the cannabis research law during a second panel at the hearing on Wednesday.

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) said in a written testimony to the Senate committee that the organization “supports more extensive and scientifically rigorous research by the VA on the therapeutic benefits and risks of cannabis and cannabis-derived products as a potential treatment for service-related disabled” veterans. “

The American Legion, meanwhile, said it “supports efforts to improve medical cannabis research, calls on Congress to remove cannabis from List I Controlled Substances, and believes the DEA is privately funded medical marijuana manufacturing operations in the United States should license “.

“Any medical cannabis research legislation should consider clinical studies that track the development of symptoms associated with a cannabis use disorder. Enabling safe and efficient research into cannabis drug development is critical to providing innovative evidence-based, complementary and alternative medicine to veterans in the management of chronic pain and mental disorders. It is imperative that VA continue to research alternative treatments to ensure that those with PTSD and chronic pain receive the best possible care. “

Reps Lou Correa (D-CA) and Peter Meijer (R-MI) sponsor the House Companion version of Tester and Sullivan’s Bill.

Last year the House Veterans Affairs Committee approved the earlier version of the VA Medical Cannabis Research Act, as well as a separate proposal that would allow VA doctors to give medical cannabis recommendations to patients in states where it is legal, but they made no headway to the ground.

The Senate, under the control of the GOP, did not pass standalone marijuana laws in its last session, but with the Democrats now in charge of both chambers and the White House, there is renewed optimism that modest reforms like this latest move have a solid chance To become law.

In April, a bipartisan coalition of Congressmen reintroduced bills that would legalize medical cannabis for military veterans at the federal level.

MP Greg Steube (R-FL) tabled a proposal in January to ensure that military veterans are not punished for using medical cannabis in accordance with state law. It would also state that VA doctors would be allowed to discuss the risks and benefits of marijuana with their patients.

Doctors in Virginia are currently allowed to discuss cannabis with patients and document their use in medical records, and those seasoned patients are already protected from losing their marijuana benefits by agency policies – but the bill would put those guidelines into federal law for them to do this could not be changed administratively in the future.

Meanwhile, congressional leaders are working to end the federal marijuana ban entirely.

Lawyers are pushing for a vote on federal legalization law to be held this month by House Justice Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, NY.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is also in the process of drafting a bill to end the federal cannabis ban, which he repeatedly said would be “soon”. Senate Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is also working on the bill with Schumer and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), said he was expecting a filing “very soon”.

Read VA’s written statement on the Veterans Marijuana Research Act below:

VA Marihuana Research Testi… by Marijuana Moment

Congressional Democrats defy Biden by lifting DC marijuana sales ban

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