Patients of VA Facilities Allowed To Use Medical Marijuana Where Legal
The Department of Veterans Affairs will officially permit patients treated at VA facilities to use medical marijuana in the 14 states where it is legal, according to a new department directive set to take effect in the next week, the New York Times reports.
The directive is meant to clarify the discrepancy between federal and state law regarding the use of medical marijuana.
Under VA rules, veterans can be denied services if they are discovered to be using illegal drugs, which until now included marijuana (Frosch, New York Times, 7/23).
According to some experts, the policy led many patients to distrust their physicians or avoid the VA health system (Yen, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/25).
The new guidance does not allow VA physicians to begin prescribing medical marijuana and applies only to veterans in states like California, which have legalized the drug's use.
Physicians still may alter a patient's treatment regimen to account for marijuana use or choose not to prescribe additional pain medication based on possible drug interactions (New York Times, 7/23).
VA Undersecretary for Health Robert Petzel has sent a letter to Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access -- which has worked closely with VA on the issue -- outlining the new policy. The guidelines will be distributed to the department's 900 facilities in the next week (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.