Will VA Doctors Be Able To Recommend Pot To Veterans?
The debate on whether U.S. military veterans should have access to medical cannabis continues.
However, this time, change is in sight. In a 24-7 vote on July 13, lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment that would give veterans access to medical marijuana in states in which it is legal for medicinal use.
The new amendment aims to lift the current gag order that prevents VA doctors from discussing medical marijuana with their patients. The amendment will help increase access to medical marijuana for vets. Despite significant changes made in marijuana reform, this topic remains very controversial.
Those for the amendment say vets should have access to medical marijuana. Many vets have noted that the use of cannabis alleviates symptoms pain and PTSD. Vets are highly susceptible to mental health conditions like PTSD.
According to a 2012 report, roughly 20% of vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD and depression. Not only is that, but the suicide rates among vets who have PTSD 50% higher than the national average.
Furthermore, many agree that the use of medical cannabis is a safer alternative to prescription medication for pain and anxiety.
“The death rate from opioids among VA health care is nearly double the national average,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a supporter of the amendment. “From what I hear from veterans is that medical marijuana has helped them deal with pain and PTSD, particularly as an alternative to opioids.”
Still, there are some who strongly oppose the amendment and have strong hesitations to the use of medical marijuana for these purposes. Last year, a similar initiative gained traction in the House and the Senate but ultimately vanished from the final merged bill that became law.
Until this new amendment passes, the policies for VA doctors will remain. Current policy prohibits VA doctors from recommending cannabis, even in states where it is legal. This is because the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, one of the most dangerous drug lists, alongside heroin and LSD. These drugs are defined as having a high potential for abuse and no medical value.
The amendment would give VA physicians the ability to recommend medical cannabis where it is legal. As Senator Steve Daines of Montana put it, the measure “simply allows the VA patients in states with medical marijuana programs to discuss that option with their VA doctor or physician.”
Whether the amendment passes or not this time around is yet to be seen. Time will tell how far this amendment goes shortly.
Marijuana continues to be a controversial subject. It remains a Schedule I drug on the federal level, yet many parts of the country allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. This makes it a tricky subject for physicians who must abide by certain policies.
What do you think about this amendment? Should VA doctors have the ability to recommend medical marijuana? Regardless, marijuana is a substance that can be abused, and that does not change regardless of changes in regulations. Therefore, if you r addiction is out of control, please call us. We can help. Call now.
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