Medical Marijuana: Department Of Veterans Affairs Urged To Allow Medical Marijuana As Treatment Option In States Where It Is Legal

Louis Babcock - Author

Jan. 27 2016, Updated 8:08 p.m. ET

A letter was sent on Wednesday to the Department of Veterans Affairs where it was stated that healthcare professionals working in the VA system should begin talking to their patients about using medical marijuana as a treatment option. The medical marijuana option would only be allowed in states where medical marijuana is already legal in the private healthcare sector. The letter was drafted by 21 members from both parties, from both houses of Congress.

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Veterans Affairs Secretary, Robert McDonald, was sent the letter just days before an order expires in which doctors at VA hospitals have been barred from discussing marijuana as a medical option. The order that expires on Sunday, VHA Directive 2011-004, forces veterans to not be able to discuss every available option with their VA doctors for fear of the VA stripping them of their healthcare and other VA benefits.

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“According to the current directive, VA providers are prohibited from completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran’s participation in a state-sanctioned marijuana program. This policy disincentivizes doctors and patients from being honest with each other.”

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Democrat Senator from Oregon, Jeff Merkley, co-sponsor of the letter sent to the VA secretary, commented on why he feels the VA needs to view medical marijuana in a different light.

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“We should be doing everything we can to make life easier for our veterans. Prohibiting VA doctors from talking to their patients about medical marijuana just doesn’t make sense.”

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Republican Senator from Montana, Steve Daines, gives his view about why veterans need to be able to discuss all medical options with their VA provider.

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“When veterans walk into a VA 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. 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 deserve at VA facilities.”

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The views on medical marijuana and legal marijuana are becoming more lax in recent years. Marijuana has been legalized for recreational purposes in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and in the District of Columbia. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states. The total number of VA facilities in these states are 442 that serve tens of thousands of veterans with health issues that can be helped with the use of medical marijuana.

Medically Approved Treatments From Marijuana

  • Nausea Relief During Chemotherapy Treatments
  • Nerve Pain
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic Pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Cancer Treatment
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Anxiety
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Lupus
  • Glaucoma

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been the site of scandals over the last few years. Complaints of veterans not being able to be seen for treatment for months, if at all, left the country speechless on how the United States was taking care of its veterans. Some veterans are forced to wait multiple years and wade through countless miles of red tape just to collect the benefits that they were promised when they enlisted.

As more United States soldiers are coming back from more than a decade of war in the Middle East, veterans will need to be able to receive treatment that they could get from a non VA facility. VA doctors and patients should not be hamstringed in determining patient care based on the political ideology of the use of medical marijuana.

Do you think that this letter sent to the VA secretary will be the start of a policy change in the VA system when it comes to medical marijuana?

[Image Via David McNew/Getty Images]


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