Here’s the VA's new marijuana policy

At least you can talk about it

Matt Saintsing
December 19, 2017 - 10:01 am

(photo credit: EFE/Federico Anfitti)

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Doctors with the VA can’t recommend or prescribe medical marijuana, but starting next month they’ll be allowed to talk about it with their patients.

A new policy directive encourages VA physicians to “discuss with the Veteran marijuana use, due to its clinical relevance to patient care, and discuss marijuana with any Veteran requesting information about marijuana.”

Currently, no doctor—civilian or otherwise—can prescribe marijuana. That’s because prescription is a federally-regulated process and marijuana falls under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I substance.

Schedule I substances are usually reserved for drugs that are highly addictive and have no medical value, such as heroin.

That’s why the 29 states (plus the District of Columbia) with medical cannabis laws allow doctors to just recommend the drug, which circumvents the official prescription process.

The directive also states “Veterans must not be denied VHA services solely because they are participating in State-approved marijuana programs.”

But, those patients must get their medical marijuana recommendations from private doctors not in the VA.

VA Secretary David Shulkin, a medical doctor, has repeatedly said that while he does see medical potential for cannabis, he’s asserted that Congressional action is needed before the department can make medical marijuana available to veterans.

Read the whole directive here.