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Veterans Marijuana Research Bill Would Have Minimal Cost, Congressional Analysts Say In Seemingly Flawed Report

A bill that would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct clinical trials into the therapeutic benefits of marijuana for veterans would have minimal fiscal impact, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). However, the report seems to contain erroneous interpretations of the legislation’s provisions.

CBO said in its report, which was released on Wednesday, that a VA study into the potential impact of CBD that launched in February 2019 “would satisfy the bill’s requirement for research.” Thus, the bill wouldn’t create significant additional costs.

But text of the legislation itself indicates that the ongoing study would not satisfy its research requirements, for several reasons.

First, the cited study only covers post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The bill, as approved last month by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, mandates that VA shall conduct clinical trials not just into PTSD, but also specifically on chronic pain as well as “other conditions.”

Second, the bill calls for studies that look into “varying forms of cannabis,” including full plant and extracts. Further, it requires an investigation into at least three marijuana varieties “with significant variants in phenotypic traits and various ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol in chemical composition.” Again, the study CBO pointed to looks exclusively at synthetic CBD.

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