The Department of Veteran's Affairs has officially relaxed the rules concerning medical marijuana. Now veterans are permitted to use medical marijuana in the 14 states where it is legal.
Under prior department rules, veterans treated in a VA hospital or clinic could be denied pain medications if they were found to be using marijuana. Although VA physicians are still not allowed to prescribe medical marijuana, if it is legal in the state, they will not deny opioids to their patients who use it. Of course, doctors may still reduce or change a patient's medication if there is a risk of interaction with the marijuana, but the decision will be based on an individual patient's case and not a blanket rule.
This is the second step in what appears to be a gradual softening of federal policy on medical marijuana. Last October, the Justice Department announced that it would not prosecute people for using or selling medical marijuana in states where it is legal, even though it is still illegal federally.
In My Opinion...
I am glad to see this ruling by the VA. There is enough evidence of the pain-relieving benefits of medical marijuana, that I personally would like to see it approved on a federal level. But at the very least, I think our veterans should certainly have the same rights as others in their state to adequate pain relief.
In the past, some veterans have been forced to give up the health care benefits they were entitled to in order to get the pain relief they needed. Now hopefully they can get both. They sacrificed and put their lives on the line to protect us; the least we can do is give them the best healthcare available – including effective pain relief options.
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Woodward, Cal. United States war veterans gain access to medicinal marijuana. Canadian Medical Association Journal. August 10, 2010.
Frosch, Dan. V.A. Eases Rules for Users of Medical Marijuana. The New York Times. July 23, 2010.
Published On: August 11, 2010