The marijuana legalization movement took a big step yesterday here in the United States with the first ever bill for cannabis reform approved by a House committee. The bill would force the VA to begin researching marijuana and its medicinal benefits for our military veterans that are combating PTSD, chronic pain and the opioid epidemic.

The bill was introduced by Veterans Affairs Committee GOP Chairman Phil Roe and Congressman Tim Waltz, and while many other bills to reform cannabis laws have been introduced to Congress, this is the first to ever pass any government committee to move on to anther vote. The committee attached a report to the bill that read:

“Cannabis research.—The Committee recognizes that continued focus on the discovery of treatment alternatives for veterans diagnosed with various conditions such as chronic pain and PTSD are essential to reducing the number of veteran suicides. For this reason, the Committee urges VA to utilize funds, in an amount deemed appropriate by the Secretary, to prioritize investments in research on the efficacy and safety of cannabis usage among the veteran population for medicinal purposes. The Committee also requests a report, within 180 days after the enactment of this Act, by the Secretary containing a detailed plan on how the Department expects to pursue this research. The Committee also urges VA to ensure any research conducted or supported by VA on cannabis therapy is preserved in a manner that will facilitate further research.”

“While this bill is certainly modest in its immediate impact, we believe that it is a necessary first step toward building bipartisan support for broader cannabis reform legislation in Congress,” the Veterans Cannabis Coalition said in a statement. “Hundreds of thousands of veterans, like the millions of other Americans who have medicated with cannabis, have experienced profound and sustained relief or elimination of underlying conditions. Many of those conditions–prominently traumatic brain injuries (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain–are poorly managed with current medication models, with health providers offering few or no alternatives to powerful pharmaceuticals like opioids, stimulants, and tranquilizers to patients.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been criticized harshly for ignoring veterans’ testimonies about the relief they are finding from cannabis consumption and refusing to research marijuana, always citing the federal Schedule 1 status of marijuana as their reasoning. Do you think this bill will pass all the way through congress and will it trigger elected officials to start taking more seriously the myriad of other bills introduced to reform cannabis law?