New Policy For Va Doctors Regarding MMJ

To date, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been prohibited from having their doctors formally recommend medical marijuana to their patients. However, a recently submitted policy may allow for doctors to discuss the potential for medical cannabis treatment.

Discuss being the key word of the sentence here: VA doctors will still not be allowed to recommend that their patients use cannabis for medical treatment. The privilege to have a conversation with their patients about medical marijuana will be granted as well as the ability to recommend them to another doctor who is able to legally recommend MMJ. 

The new policy states, “Veterans must not be denied VHA services solely because they are participating in State-approved marijuana programs." With a statement that seems like it is slowly adjusting its views on medical cannabis (or at least things are looking up), it is disappointing to still see the VA continuing its, "prohibition on recommending, making referrals to or completing forms and registering Veterans for participation in State-approved marijuana programs.”

Overall, the major summary states, "adding policy to support the Veteran-provider relationship when discussing the use of marijuana and its impact on health including Veteran-specific treatment plans." Basically, the Department of Veterans Affairs refuses to responsible for providing veterans with cannabis, whether its medical or not. But, they are now open to referring you to another medical professional that will.

We are still climbing and uphill battle, though. V.A. Secretary David Shulkin reminded us at a White House briefing back in May, “Until time the federal law changes, we are not able to be able to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions that may be helpful."

Here's a general consensus of the law right now: In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that doctors have the right to recommend medical cannabis under the First Amendment. They cannot, however, actually give cannabis to patients themselves.

The new policy is scheduled to run until 2022, giving veterans plenty of time to do what needs to be done for them to access the plant.