Despite significant evidence that medical marijuana can help treat many of the conditions faced by veterans returning from military service (chronic pain, PTSD, etc.), the federal government still prohibits VA hospitals and doctors from even discussing cannabis with soldiers. But according to experts, if the Food and Drug Administration had their way, veterans would be able to toke up as they please.
Forbes recently published a story in which they interviewed several experts who've worked with the FDA and found that many of them believe the agency would be open to medical marijuana for veterans. Several people have noted that the FDA has approved and even worked closely with many researchers who've studied Schedule I narcotics, primarily LSD and MDMA.
"We've had good experiences working with the FDA," said Brad Burge, communications director at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. "We have a long relationship with the FDA–a lot through our MDMA research. They've been open to approving research protocols into Schedule I drugs. It's other regulatory agencies that have been standing in the way."
But while the FDA has been open to research involving Schedule I narcotics, other agencies have blocked the way when it comes to marijuana. Dr. Sue Sisley is researcher looking into how cannabis can help treat veterans with PTSD. Sisley needs about 76 participants for her study, which should be easy since the nearby VA hospital in Arizona treats more than 20,000 veterans. But the VA hospital is refusing to work with her and will not advertise her study, making it impossible for her to find enough subjects.
Sisley says with one phone call, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs could get the hospital to comply with the study. But they refuse to do so. It appears the FDA is the only agency willing to address marijuana research in any way.
"I'm assuming that [Attorney General] Sessions has created an atmosphere of fear around the word 'cannabis' and so nobody's willing to step out," said Sisley. "The FDA deserves major commendation because they at least are responsive."
It's sad when simply being "responsive" is high praise when talking about a federal agency's openness to marijuana.