With an announcement so shortsighted and ill-conceived that our molars are grinding, The Washington Post reported yesterday that “The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will not conduct research into whether medical marijuana could help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain, as veterans groups are pushing for the use of the drug as an alternative to opioids and anti-depressants”.
As with many federal positions on cannabis, there are multiple facets to poor policies run amuck. VA Secretary David Shulkin received a request in October by 10 Democrats on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee "to commit the VA to investigating whether medical marijuana can help veterans suffering from PTSD and chronic pain and identify barriers to doing so." In December, Shulkin responded: "“The VA is committed to researching and developing effective ways to help Veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain condition... however, federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or to refer veterans to such projects.” His letter was released to the public yesterday.
Veterans and Concerned Stakeholders Have Reacted Harshly
Military.com reports: "Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., the ranking Democrat on the House VA oversight committee, who signed the October letter, on Tuesday called Shulkin's response "disappointing and unacceptable" and an attempt to mislead the veterans community."
And that's hardly the harshest criticism: "In a scathing response Tuesday about Shulkin's letter, John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution, called the VA Secretary's response "an unfortunate combination of false information, incomplete analysis, and incomprehensible logic."
His comments are a follow-up to an article he authored at Brookings called "When the VA Lies to Congress about Medical Marijuana, It Lies to our Wounded Warriors". DANG. In this article Hudak specifies seven (7) major flaws with Shulkin's response to Congress.
NOTE: Read the VA letter to the Committee and you will be disappointed by its many weaknesses. Read the Hudak article in response - it's a well-deserved takedown in our opinion.
Boone Cutler, Warfighter Activist, Responds
A few months ago we did a story on one such wounded veteran, Boone Cutler, an Army paratrooper who was severely injured by a mortar while fighting in Iraq (read “There must be a reason I’m not pulling this trigger” and you'll immediately understand why such blind interference infuriates him.)
We reached out to Cutler, who had read the Hudak article and told us, "Only VA Secretary Shulkin knows why he lied to Congress about the VA not being able to research the effects of medical marijuana on wounded service members. The talk about Bayer/Monsanto creating a toxic version of Cannabis in a bottle seems real. Is the VA allowing us to die so Bayer/Monsanto can make a profit off of injured Warfighters? I’ve got news for them; we won’t use their shit. So, they can waste money creating crap - we’ll stick to the real stuff that works and is non-toxic, even if we are criminalized. Somebody please tell the VA to save their money."