Research into cannabis for vets closer to reality at federal commission’s insistence

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A government committee-led effort to seek more research for PTSD is gaining support

The Creating Options for Veterans Expedited Recovery (COVER) Commission has been working on improving the mental health treatments available for military veterans. It has been collecting input and is tasked with providing guidance on how the government needs to oversee veteran treatment. Its recent investigations have reached a surprising conclusion – it wants both Congress and the executive branch to dig into the potential benefits of marijuana and psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms and MDMA.

“Medical cannabis and psychedelic drugs may have used in treating mental health issues among veterans; however, these substances are currently classified as Schedule 1 under the Controlled Substances Act, which precludes VA from conducting research on their efficacy,” said the panel, led by presidential appointee Jake Leinenkugel.

The fact that these drugs have a Schedule I status creates a problem when trying to obtain approval to perform any research. Also, the only official marijuana supply available for official studies is inadequate and of poor quality, according to the panel. The report, which was presented in January and has gone largely unnoticed by advocates, determined that cannabis and psychedelics represent a potential effective mental health treatment and should be further explored.

“The U.S. federal government’s policies have blocked externally valid, randomized clinical trials on the effects of cannabis,” the report says. “Scientists seeking to conduct research on cannabis must submit to an arduous application process that may last years. The research requires approval from multiple government agencies, including some with stated opposition to any therapeutic uses of cannabis.”

Also, the panel added that the Schedule I status is one of the reasons that has blocked the VA from conducting further research at all, but that point was disputed by advocates.