A new defense bill has surfaced proposing that active duty soldiers are permitted to use experimental medications, including medical marijuana. Let me rephrase that, soon soldiers may be allowed to use medical marijuana while in combat. The goal of the bill is “to reduce the number of deaths or the severity of harm to members of the armed forces… caused by a risk or agent of war,” as stated in a report.
The bill, introduced in the Conference Report HR 2810, would give the secretary of defense the authority to permit military service members that are stationed outside of the United States the freedom to use medications that have not been approved U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is immense pressure on Washington not to break policy and leave the responsibly of what is “safe and effective” medicine to the FDA.
There is a part of the policy which allows the FDA to provide the Pentagon with approval for the utilization of experimental medications in the event of a nuclear attack or other kinds of chemical threats. Therefore, the Department of Defense has asked Congress to broaden the existing permission to give the military total control to declare “emergency uses for medical products to reduce deaths and severity of injuries caused by agents of war.” It is believed that granting less restrictive access to medications to the sick or injured service members can increase the number that return home safely,
“Traditional pathways to [FDA] approval and licensure of critical medical products for battlefield use are too slow to allow for rapid insertion and use of these products on the battlefield,” according to the conference report. “This provision could lead to even higher survival rates from severe battlefield wounds suffered by service members.”
Although the bill does not affect life in the United states, it is still opposed by the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Gottlieb thinks that military personnel will be at a greater risk without the FDA’s guidance. The FDA has responded to the DOD’s proposal requesting military officials to petition the FDA for emergency medications, which was unapproved.
The Pentagon is exploring avenues to treat soldiers suffering from chronic pain and anxiety with medical marijuana instead of contributing to the opioid epidemic with prescription painkillers. Even the government is tired of waiting for the FDA to approve medical marijuana.