VA To Allow Patients To Use Medical Marijuana

The New York Times: "The Department of Veterans Affairs will formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for several years. A department directive, expected to take effect next week, resolves the conflict in veterans facilities between federal law, which outlaws marijuana, and the 14 states that allow medicinal use of the drug, effectively deferring to the states. ...Under department rules, veterans can be denied pain medications if they are found to be using illegal drugs. Until now, the department had no written exception for medical marijuana. This has led many patients to distrust their doctors, veterans say" (Frosch, 7/23).

The Associated Press/The Washington Post: "The new guidance does not authorize VA doctors to begin prescribing medical marijuana, which is considered an illegal drug under federal law. But it will now make clear that in the 14 states where state and federal law are in conflict, VA clinics generally will allow the use of medical marijuana for veterans already taking it under other clinicians. ... Dr. Robert A. Petzel, the VA's undersecretary for health, sent a letter to Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access this month that spells out the department's policy. The guidelines will be distributed to the VA's 900 care facilities around the country in the next week. Petzel makes clear that a VA doctor could reserve the right to modify a veteran's treatment plan if there were risks of a bad interaction with other drugs" (Yen, 7/25).

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