VA Policy On Medical Marijuana And Veterans

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 The VA Medical Cannabis Act of 2018 is not yet the law of the land. So what is the official VA policy on veterans using cannabis?

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: As more states consider authorizing the medical use of marijuana, there has been a growing number of voices among the veteran community urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to reconsider its’ policies on medical cannabis.

These voices include Representative Phil Roe (R) of Tennessee and Representative Tim Walz (D) of Minnesota, who have introduced House Resolution 5520, The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

H.R. 5520 would, if passed, authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to do medical marijuana research. Specifically, Congress.gov says the bill, “authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of certain forms of cannabis and cannabis delivery for veterans enrolled in the VA health care system diagnosed with conditions such as chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder.”

As of June 2018, that legislation has been introduced only, but the fact that a bipartisan effort to create this policy happened at all is an indicator that American society is ready to discuss an end to the prohibition of cannabis, or at a minimum that it’s time to approve marijuana and hemp plant derivatives such as Cannabidiol (aka CBD) for use as medicine.

The VA Medical Cannabis Act of 2018 is not yet the law of the land. So what is the official VA policy on veterans using cannabis?

Official Defense Department Policy On Marijuana

The United States Department of Defense, which is responsible for policy for the United States Military, is NOT part of this discussion about medical marijuana. VA policy on the use of cannabis by the veteran population is not connected with the official DoD policies.

The Department of Defense maintains its’ marijuana prohibition on currently serving military members, and military recruiters are required to use discretion when interviewing potential new recruits about possible drug use prior to military service.

At one time, the recreational use of marijuana or its’ derivatives could be grounds for rejecting a new recruit. However, recruiters do not have to bar the enlistment of those with minor pot experimentation at the time of this writing. Instead, the recruiter may, at his or her discretion, apply for a waiver for such recruits.

All new recruits are advised that there is a zero tolerance for any illegal substance abuse issues in the military. Those who test positive for illegal drugs or illegally used prescription drugs are subject to punishment and possible discharge from the military.


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Department Of Veterans Affairs Policy On Medical Marijuana

The issues facing veterans who use pot while seeking treatment from the VA are more complex. Those who use marijuana to relieve symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other service-connected medical issues may be afraid to discuss this with a VA care provider out of fear that their VA benefits may be in jeopardy for doing so.

What is the reality? The VA official site states clearly that any substance that is illegal on the federal level is NOT permitted to be used, recommended, prescribed, or endorsed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, up to and including the recommendation that veterans use pot to alleviate symptoms or pain.

Under the policies active at the time of this writing, any substance listed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a Schedule One controlled substance are subject to this prohibition at the VA level.

As more states consider authorizing the medical use of marijuana, there has been a growing number of voices among the veteran community urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to reconsider its’ policies on medical cannabis.

These voices include Representative Phil Roe (R) of Tennessee and Representative Tim Walz (D) of Minnesota, who have introduced House Resolution 5520, The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

H.R. 5520 would, if passed, authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to do medical marijuana research. Specifically, Congress.gov says the bill, “authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of certain forms of cannabis and cannabis delivery for veterans enrolled in the VA health care system diagnosed with conditions such as chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Read full article @ Veterans Administration

Comments

  1. Dale Worthington says

    In the past year, I have told my doctors I would be using a natural therapy, and the were in agreement with my plan, after I laid it out. I was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer in May of 2017. I have since had it excised, and have refused their therapy DU JOUR, twice. I am still clear of any other growth, and feel as well as I can. After the next 3 visits/followups, I will space them out to every 6 months, instead of three. My medications have been working more efficiently, requiring that my Primary Care Physician (PCP) and I work together to re-assess this every year.
    I have had no issues, with VA personnel, and I do not press my luck, by bringing contraband onto govt property. That’s just stupid.

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