VA Secretary 'Interested' in Looking at Benefits of Medical Marijuana Use Among Veterans

By Melanie Arter | May 31, 2017 | 12:46 PM EDT

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin (Screenshot of C-SPAN video)

( - Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday that there may be evidence that medical marijuana may be helpful in reducing the suicide problem among the nation's veterans, but until federal law changes, the VA won't "be able to prescribe marijuana for conditions that may be helpful."

During a White House press conference, Shulkin was asked about an op-ed that leaders of the American Legion wrote last week suggesting that increased medical marijuana use could be "a promising solution" to combat the suicide problem among veterans.

When asked whether Congress should reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to allow for it to be better used for medical purposes, Shulkin said, "I believe that everything that could help veterans should be debated by Congress and by medical experts, and we will implement that law, so if there is compelling evidence that this is helpful, I hope the people take a look at that and come up with the right decision, and then we will implement that."

When asked what his opinion is as a physician, Shulkin said, "My opinion is, is that some of the states that have put in appropriate controls, there may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful, and we're interested in looking at that and learning from that, but until time that federal law changes, we are not able to be able to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions that may be helpful."

The American Legion requested a meeting with the White House to discuss clearing the way for clinical research in medical marijuana use, according to Politico.

American Legion's National Director of Veteran Affairs and Rehabilitation Louis Celli said the Legion is not asking for marijuana to be legalized.

"There is overwhelming evidence that it has been beneficial for some vets. The difference is that it is not founded in federal research because it has been illegal," Politico quoted Celli as saying.

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