VA Allow Medical Marijuana
A bipartisan group of 21 lawmakers is putting the pressure on Veterans Affairs (VA) administrators to make some fundamental changes to the way the VA views medicinal cannabis. The group sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald this week, calling on him to lead the way toward more accessible medicinal cannabis laws.
In particular, lawmakers said that VA doctors need to be allowed to recommend medicinal cannabis to war veterans who are interested in pursuing that route, and who may benefit from it.
Under current regulations, Veteran Affairs providers are not allowed to discuss medicinal cannabis with their patients, primarily because cannabis has not been officially classified as an “evidence-based” form of therapy.
But the current rules that prevent VA doctors from discussing medical cannabis with patients are set to expire this Sunday.
And many politicians see the expiration of these rules as the perfect time to rethink current attitudes toward medicinal cannabis.
“According to the current directive, Veteran Affairs providers are prohibited from completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran’s participation in a state-sanctioned marijuana program,” lawmakers wrote in their letter.
“This policy disincentivizes doctors and patients from being honest with each other.”
For some lawmakers, the Veteran Affairs current rules regarding medicinal cannabis are problematic for reasons beyond the obvious fact that they make it impossible for veterans to discuss and access the full range of possible treatments—it’s also a violation of vets’ constitutional rights.
“When veterans walk into a Veteran Affairs facility and talk with their doctor, they can’t discuss all of the options available to them that they could discuss at a non-VA facility next door,” Montana Senator Steve Daines told reporters.
“Current VA policy is not only a clear violation of states’ 10th Amendment rights—it’s a violation of our veterans’ First Amendment rights to talk openly and freely with their doctors.”
“Veterans shouldn’t be discriminated against just because they’re seeking the care they deserver at VA facilities.”
The changes being proposed by the group of lawmakers would apply only to veterans living in states with some form of legalized medicinal cannabis. So far, 25 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized medical marijuana, and 17 states have laws allowing for the regulated use of cannabis-based therapeutic oils.