WASHINGTON—Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday he is open to the use of medicinal marijuana to prevent suicide among veterans if the issue is properly studied and Congress approves.
“My opinion is that some of the states that have put in appropriate controls, there may be some evidence that this is going to be helpful and we’re interested in looking at that and learning from that,” Shulkin, a physician, said during a briefing at the White House. “Until time that federal law changes, we are not able to be able to prescribe, you know, medical marijuana for conditions that may be helpful.”
Shulkin said, “everything that could help veterans should be debated by Congress and by medical experts.”
The American Legion, the country’s largest and most prominent veterans organization, sent a letter to the White House earlier this month urging the administration to support a measure that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to research marijuana’s effects on treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
During the presidential campaign, Trump signaled that he would leave medicinal marijuana to individual states.
However, his position as president has been less clear.
The omnibus spending bill passed earlier this month aimed at keeping the government funded through September included language barring the federal government from prosecuting medicinal marijuana providers in states where it is legal.
In a signing statement, Trump said he would “treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”