Despite the men and women of the United States military being forced to risk life and limb to protect the agenda of the federal government, those who return home wounded from the battlefield are not given the same freedom to take advantage of statewide medical marijuana programs as the average citizen. Instead, the Department of Veterans Affairs has done everything in its power to prevent vets suffering from conditions ranging from chronic pain to PTSD from using cannabis products as an alternative to addictive pharmaceuticals, going as far as to implement policies that disqualify those who test positive for THC metabolites from receiving other, crucial VA benefits.
However, a bipartisan legion of U.S. House and Senate members recently stepped up in an attempt to strongly persuade the Department of Veterans Affairs to stop running interference with the health of military veterans when it comes to their choice of treating wartime ailments with cannabis. In a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, the 21 Congressional enforcers advised the department to reconsider its current directive, which prevents physicians employed with the VA from providing veterans with recommendations that would allow them to take part in medical marijuana programs.
“According to the current directive, VA providers are prohibited from completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran’s participation in a state-sanctioned marijuana program,” the letter reads. “This policy disincentivizes doctors and patients from being honest with each other.”
The penned crack at twisting the arms of VA gatekeepers comes four days before the department’s current policy on this matter is set to expire. The goal is to pull the political wedge out of the ass of VA officials and get the department to relax the rules against cannabis, a substance legal for medicinal purposes in 23 states and the District of Columbia, so that veterans can be allowed the same right to all available treatment options as the rest of the population.
This push to bring the availability of medical marijuana to the veteran community is being led by several familiar faces in the realm of quasi pot reforms from atop of Capitol Hill. They include, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who got behind the overly hyped CARERS Act back in early 2015, as well as Representatives Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Dana Rohrabacher of California, the two lawmakers responsible for the federal spending amendment that was supposed to prevent the Department of Justice and its DEA cronies from bullying the medical marijuana community.
Bringing attention to VHA Directive 2011-004, the lawmakers argue that Congress has started to recognize that the medicinal use of marijuana is becoming increasing more prominent across the United States, and that veterans deserve equal access. The letter points to the successful passage of an amendment attached to the 2016 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, which would have allowed physicians to discuss medical marijuana with their patients, while eliminating all of the other ridiculous policies that punish veterans from testing positive for marijuana. But since Congressional leaders squashed the rider right before passing the final spending bill, lawmakers now want the VA to take the matter into their own hands.
“Congress has taken initial steps to alleviate this conflict in law and we will continue to work toward this goal,” the federal lawmakers wrote. “However, you are in a position to make this change when the current VHA directive expires at the end of this month. We ask that you act to ensure that our veterans’ access to care is not compromised and that doctors and patients are allowed to have honest discussions about treatment options.”
Some statistics show that more than 20 veterans a day commit suicide as a result of PTSD and depression, while many others succumb to the perils of painkiller addiction and alcohol abuse in an effort to shadow the pain long enough to function like a normal human being. Although a number of studies indicate that cannabis eases the symptoms of PTSD, the federal government maintains “there is no evidence at this time that marijuana is an effective treatment for” this condition.
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