By "Radical" Russ Belville
(The New York Times) DENVER — The Department of Veterans Affairs will formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for several years.
The policy will not permit department doctors to prescribe marijuana. But it will address the concern of many patients who use the drug that they could lose access to their prescription pain medication if caught.
Under department rules, veterans can be denied pain medications if they are found to be using illegal drugs. Until now, the department had no written exception for medical marijuana.
At least for the veterans who live in the fourteen states that allow for medical marijuana. If you’re using medical marijuana in the other 36 states, you can bet the V.A. will still be denying your pain medications.
And for those vets using medical marijuana for PTSD, let’s hope you live in California or New Mexico, because those are the only two of the medical marijuana states that recognize that condition as deserving protection from arrest. The other twelve won’t let you get a card or use a recommendation for medical marijuana if PTSD is your only condition.
And if you’re a vet in California, Colorado, or Montana, you still have to hope that some rogue sheriff or district attorney is OK with medical marijuana, lest they conduct a raid on the source of your medicine, often with the DEA in assistance or leading the raid.
I’ve often remarked that if you can pick up a rifle for Uncle Sam, you ought to be able to smoke a joint and drink a beer while on pass. It is a travesty that we deny our veterans the natural, effective, and safe medicine so effective at soothing the mental anguish that is PTSD. Kudos for the Veterans Administration making this first baby step toward sensible federal marijuana policy – the first time any entity of the federal government has formally recognized marijuana as medicine (unless you count the Compassionate Investigative New Drug Program and cannabinoid patent #6630507 and federal research documenting THC’s anti tumoral properties back in 1974…)