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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Tester Bill Directs VA To Study Medical Cannabis As Treatment For Veterans

People browsing at a medical marijuana dispensary.
Drug Policy Alliance
People browsing at a medical marijuana dispensary.

Federal legislation introduced this week by Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester and Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan would require the Veterans Administration to study medicinal cannabis as an alternative treatment for veterans.

The "VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act" Directs the VA to begin clinical trials to test the effects of medical marijuana as a treatment for chronic pain and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress.

The bill mirrors legislation the senators drafted last year, with one key difference. As first reported by, last year’s version said the VA, “May conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety of forms of cannabis." This year’s version says the secretary of  Veterans Affairs "shall" start those double-blind clinical trials.

Tester is quoted in a press release issued Friday saying, “The VA needs to listen to the growing number of veterans who have already found success in medicinal cannabis in easing their pain and other symptoms.”

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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