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August 16, 2018

King Backs Bipartisan Legislation to Study Preventative Alternatives for Veterans Struggling with Chronic Pain, PTSD

The legislation would encourage the VA to study the effectiveness of medical cannabis for veterans facing common diagnoses, and is supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today,U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced his support for the VA MedicinalCannabis Research Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation to authorize theDepartment of Veterans Affairs (VA) to advance scientific and medical researchinto the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis usage by veterans withdiagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain.
“Our veterans have madeimmense sacrifices to protect our nation’s security. Tragically, some of themare still struggling with the effects of their service,” said Senator King. “Conditionssuch as PTSD and chronic pain are far too prevalent in the veterans community,and those who are suffering with these diagnoses are sometimes forced to turnto opioids – creating a number of new and serious problems. We owe it to ourveterans who need medical assistance to do everything we can to help them facetheir challenges in healthy, productive ways, including research intoalternative treatments that may help ease their pain. Maine’s veterans haveearned nothing less than our complete support, and we must explore everypossible avenue to help them.”
Specifically, the VA MedicinalCannabis Research Act of 2018 would promote scientific and medical researchinto the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis usage on veterans diagnosedwith post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and other illnesses andinjuries by (1) clarifying that research into medicinal cannabis is well withinthe authority of VA and (2) by requiring VA to report to Congress on how itintends to exercise that authority. The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of2018 is a pragmatic and bipartisan piece of legislation that will improve and inmany cases save the lives of veterans across the country. The legislation issupported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
“The time for changeon cannabis for veterans has come. IAVA members have demanded to be heard onthe important and emerging health potential of utilizing cannabis to treatinjuries of war,” said IAVA Chief Policy Officer, Melissa Bryant. “Veteransconsistently and passionately have communicated that cannabis offers effectiverelief in tackling some of the most pressing injuries we face when returningfrom war, and we need to authorize the VA to research this potential. IAVAapplauds Senator King for leading on this major bipartisan legislation whichwill address the critical health needs of veterans.”
Senator King has been a strongadvocate for veterans issues since arriving in Washington. In June, hisbill to strengthen accountability of senior executives at the VA wassigned into law. In May, Senator King held alistening session with Maine veterans on the qualities andvalues they are looking for in a new VA Secretary, and also visitedthe Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat in Rome, which bringsinjured veterans and their families to Maine in order to help the veteransovercome physical obstacles with the support of family members. In December,the U.S.Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will fund three new positions in Maine tobetter serve justice-involved Maine veterans confronting homelessness, mentalhealth or substance abuse issues – a move which follows a Februaryletter from Senator King to the VA urging additional resourceson the topic. Senator King was a cosponsor of the Department ofVeterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017,which passed the Senate in June 2017 and has since been signedinto law. The Senator also highlighted the importantplace of veterans in Maine by devoting his November and December podcaststo the subject, with Travis Mills as one of the guests on the latter show.


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