Washington, DC: A policy guidance update issued by the US Department of Veterans Affairs encourages greater communication about cannabis between doctors and veterans, but continues to forbid physicians from explicitly recommending it as a therapeutic option in states where the substance is legal.
The updated directive urges V.A. doctors to foster discussions with veterans about their cannabis use "due to its clinical relevance to patient care." It also affirms that "veterans must not be denied VHA [Veteran Health Administration] services solely for participating in state-approved marijuana programs."
However, the updated directive maintains that "providers are prohibited from completing forms or registering veterans for participation in state-approved [medical marijuana] program[s]."
Survey data compiled by the American Legion in November reports that more than one in five military veterans engage in the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
In a press statement issued by The American Legion, the organization said that the new directive "will help encourage veterans using medical cannabis to more openly and fully discuss their healthcare options with V.A. medical providers - with full reassurance that their V.A. benefits remain secure." The organization further reiterated its official position calling on "the federal government to remove cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances act to enable safe and efficient drug development research."
For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.