The new policy being issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs has some new verbiage pertaining to the medical use of marijuana when a veteran inquires about it with their government doctor. The new policy unfortunately is a nonevent and also makes little sense.

Veterans, for a long time now, have been talking about the benefits of medical marijuana in helping with PTSD symptoms. The Veterans Affairs drug policy has prevented government doctors from not only prescribing medical marijuana or discussing marijuana with patients, but in some instances veterans have even been turned away if they were registered with a state’s legal medical marijuana program.

The directive urges government doctors to “discuss with the Veteran marijuana use, due to its clinical relevance to patient care, and discuss marijuana use with any Veterans requesting information about marijuana.”However, the policy reiterates the department’s long-held position that “to comply with Federal laws such as the Controlled Substances Act…providers are prohibited from completing forms or registering Veterans for participation in a State-approved marijuana program.”

In fact, no provision of federal law blocks the department from allowing its doctors to fill out medical cannabis recommendation forms in states where it is legal, even under continued federal prohibition.In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a federal ruling finding that doctors have a First Amendment right to recommend medical cannabis to patients, as long as they don’t actually provide marijuana.

The only thing standing in the way of government doctors recommending medical cannabis to veterans is the V.A.’s own internal policy, which the the department’s Veterans Health Administration just extended with the new directive.
V.A. Sec. David Shulkin has repeatedly tried to pass the buck to Congress when asked about the issue in interviews.
During a White House briefing earlier this year, he said that state medical cannabis laws may be providing “some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful, and we’re interested in looking at that and learning from that.” But he added that “until time the federal law changes, we are not able to be able to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions that may be helpful.”

Shulkin has even gone so far as to allege that the agency can’t even participate in research on medical cannabis.From the federal government point of view, right now we are prohibited by law from doing research on it or prescribing it,” he said in one interview. “We are not going to be out there doing that research or prescribing these different medicinal preparations unless the law is changed.”

Inconsistencies between the federal government and its agencies are infuriating and unfair to anyone suffering from a medical problem that could be soothed by medical marijuana, including our veterans. Are the inconsistencies particularly infuriating due to the righteous anti-marijuana statements made by Jeff Sessions?Read more: