VA Updating Medical Marijuana Directive For Veterans That’s Expiring This Month, As Congress Pushes It To ‘Not Interfere’

VA Updating Medical Marijuana Directive For Veterans That’s Expiring This Month, As Congress Pushes It To ‘Not Interfere’
MJ moment

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working on updating a directive that’s set to expire this month concerning military veteran participation in state-legal medical marijuana programs—and congressional lawmakers are telling the department to “not interfere” in such activity. Lawmakers declined to put cannabis banking and a number of other drug policy reforms in a spending bill package released on Tuesday—but the relevant appropriations report attached to the legislation notes that VA is “in the process of updating” a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) directive that stipulates the agency’s doctors can discuss marijuana use with veteran patients and that benefits can’t be denied based solely on a patient’s participation in a medical marijuana program. While advocates have welcomed to adoption of the existing directive, they’ve taken issue with another key component that precludes VA doctors from issuing medical cannabis recommendations for veterans in states with legal programs. As a result, veterans have to go to outside doctors who may not be as closely familiar with their medical histories, or who may charge expensive fees, to fill out such forms. The congressional spending bill report “encourages the Department to not interfere with a veteran’s decision to participate in such programs and document it appropriately, to the extent allowable under Federal law.” It’s unclear whether lawmakers are suggesting that VA maintain the current policy or expand that non-interference position in a way that would allow VA doctors to make cannabis recommendations, for example. That stipulation that the department avoid interfering “to the extent allowable under Federal law” seems to speak to a long-standing debate about whether recommending medical cannabis would put VA doctors at risk of prosecution for aiding and abetting federal crimes. Federal courts have already determined that doctors who simply recommend medical cannabis to their patients are protected under the…

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Source : VA Updating Medical Marijuana Directive For Veterans That’s Expiring This Month, As Congress Pushes It To ‘Not Interfere’

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