Senate Republicans Block Effort Encouraging the Veterans Administration to Study Cannabis as a Treatment Option for Post-Traumatic Stress

Washington, DC: Republicans blocked a procedural vote that would have advanced legislation, S. 326: the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, to the floor of the United States Senate. 

All but eight GOP members voted against the bill’s advancement, assuring that it would not meet the 60 vote threshold necessary to move forward under Senate rules. The measure had previously passed unanimously out of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee with bipartisan support.

The legislation directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct an 18-month observational study to assess the effects of cannabis in veterans suffering from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Observational trial data published in December reported that patients suffering from post-traumatic stress exhibit “statistically significant improvements” in a variety of domains – including sleep, anxiety, and stress – following their use of cannabis. By contrast, a 2021 clinical trial reported that the inhalation of marijuana flowers provided limited benefits compared to placebo in treating symptoms of PTSD.

Data published earlier this year in the journal JAMA Network Open reported that nearly one in three pain patients residing in states where medical cannabis access is legal have consumed it for pain management. Pain patients who utilize cannabis frequently report decreasing or ceasing their use of opioids. 

Information on cannabis and post-traumatic stress and/or cannabis and chronic pain is available from NORML’s publication, Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids. Additional information is available from the NORML Fact Sheet,Marijuana and Veterans Issues.’