Senate Confirms Key VA Official Who Expanded New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program And Backs Federal Legalization

Senate Confirms Key VA Official Who Expanded New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program And Backs Federal Legalization
MJ moment

A key position at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been filled, with the Senate voting to confirm a nominee who previously helped oversee and expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program and who has advocated for federal legalization. Shereef Elnahal, President Joe Biden’s nominee for VA undersecretary of health, will be responsible for leading a key division of the department that until now has administratively prevented VA doctors from issuing medical cannabis recommendations to military veterans. Not only did Elnahal enthusiastically work to regulate and improve New Jersey’s medical cannabis program as the state health commissioner from 2018-2019, but he’s also made clear that he personally believes federal prohibition must come to an end. And now, he has been confirmed for a top VA slot by a Senate vote of 66-23 on Thursday. He’s expected to be sworn in this week. During a confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in April, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) brought up Elnahal’s cannabis regulatory background and expressed frustration over VA’s consistent opposition to legislation, including his own, that would promote clinical research into the therapeutic potential of marijuana for conditions that commonly afflict the veteran population. The now-confirmed official spoke about how, when he was serving as New Jersey’s health commissioner, he ran the medical marijuana program and “expanded access to the program across the state, and made it easier for veterans to enroll, as well.” “As you know, senator, this issue is very complex from the national standpoint and the federal government standpoint because it remains a Schedule I drug,” he said, adding that he would commit to “have these discussions with leadership across the administration, but also with this committee, and try to set up next steps.” Watch the conversation about medical cannabis and veterans, starting around 02:03:15…

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Source : Senate Confirms Key VA Official Who Expanded New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program And Backs Federal Legalization

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