In the future, a group of lawmakers — senators and representatives, Republicans and Democrats — will urge the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to allow those who served to use medical marijuana for pain and other ailments.
The future just happened.
A group of lawmakers including Senators Gillibrand (D-NY), Daines (R-MT), and Merkley (D-OR), and U.S. Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Titus (D-NV), fired off a letter that asks the Department of Veterans Affairs to change its medical marijuana policy.
VA doctors are not allowed to recommend medical pot, even in states where it’s legal, and otherwise legal medical patients aren’t supposed to use cannabis while under the care of the VA for fear of losing their benefits.
Of course, these patients are vets, and many of them were wounded or otherwise traumatized fighting for our nation.
Lawmakers are trying to force the issue with legislation, but in the meantime they say the VA can make its own policy without having to be shamed by Congress.
“We have worked to ensure that our veterans have the care they have earned and deserve,” the letter reads. “That means allowing veterans to have full and frank discussions with their doctors without the fear of losing benefits. It also means allowing VA doctors to provide opinions and recommendations to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. Congress has taken initial steps to alleviate this conflict in law and we will continue to work toward this goal. However, you are in a position to make this change when the current VHA directive expires at the end of this month. We ask that you act to ensure that our veterans’ access to care is not compromised and that doctors and patients are allowed to have honest discussions about treatment options.”
Experts are most hopeful about marijuana’s ability to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries. The lawmakers want those who served to have the medicine they need.
“Vets have served their country, and the least we can do is give them the care they require,” said Michael Collins, Deputy Director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. “It is shameful that the VA prevents veterans from accessing a treatment for pain relief and PTSD.”