The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs has been unwilling to permit their doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients as a treatment option, even though it would be beneficial in the treatment process for most common ailments among veterans. However, it seems as the VA is moving in the right direction with their new medical marijuana policy. VA doctors are now allowed to discuss medical marijuana with their patients.

Although, the doctors are still not allowed to recommend nor prescribe medical marijuana to their patients. But, the new policy allows the discussion of the treatment in which they then can obtain the prescription from another doctor.

“Veterans must not be denied VHA services solely because they are participating in State-approved marijuana programs,” the new policy states. The policy also endures the VA’s old “prohibition on recommending, making referrals to or completing forms and registering Veterans for participation in State-approved marijuana programs.”

Under the new policy’s provision, doctors must monitor and record patients’ usage of medical marijuana. “Clinical staff may discuss with Veterans relevant clinical information regarding marijuana and when this is discussed it must be documented in the Veteran’s medical record,” the policy states. “Providers need to make decisions to modify treatment plans based on marijuana use on a case-by-case basis, such decisions need to be made in partnership with the Veteran and must be based on concerns regarding Veteran health and safety.”

The department asserts to continue to follow federal law, which still deems marijuana a Schedule I narcotic. V.A. Secretary David Shulkin stated, “Until such time the federal law changes, we are not able to be able to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions that may be helpful”.

The new policy is scheduled to run through the end of 2022. Although the policy still hinders veterans from obtaining the treatment from VA doctors, it’s a start.

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