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Thursday, August 19, 2010
By Mike LaSalle
Department of Veterans Affairs Recognizes Medical Marijuana
On July 22, 2010 the Department of Veterans Affairs issued VHA DIRECTIVE 2010-035, specifically allowing VA patients the right to use Medical Marijuana without fear of federal interference. “Fourteen states have enacted laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana,” the Directive observes. “Medical conditions associated with the use of medical marijuana include, but are not limited to: glaucoma, chemotherapy induced nausea, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chronic pain.” Continue reading
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Bob Kerrey is president of the New School in New York City, a Vietnam War veteran and a former U.S. senator from Nebraska. Jason Flom is on the board of directors of the Drug Policy Alliance, based in New York City.
(Source) The Veterans Administration recently adopted a policy prohibiting VA physicians from recommending medical marijuana to their patients, even if marijuana is the safest and most effective medicine to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other service-related conditions.
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There are more than 1200 New Mexicans legally using medical marijuana under state law, of those, about 25 percent of them are veterans returning from war with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.But at VA hospitals nationwide, doctors are being told not to give out prescriptions because medical marijuana is still illegal under federal law.A memo sent out to VA doctors has stated if they were to help patients get medical marijuana by filling out forms, it could mean their license to prescribe drugs could be revoked and could even result in criminal charges.
(Source: New Mexico Independent) The largest group of patients enrolled in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program are those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, according to the most recent New Mexico Department of Health data. But Albuquerque’s Veteran’s Administration hospital–which many veterans rely on as their only source of health care–doesn’t allow its physicians to recommend the use of marijuana to patients.
Of 1,249 patients enrolled in the state medical marijuana program as of mid February, 291 have a diagnosis of PTSD. The next two largest groups are cancer patients, at 198, and HIV/AIDS patients, at 130.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder, sometimes severe, that is experienced by people who’ve endured dangerous situations, such as military combat. A Rand Corporation study in 2008 concluded that 20 percent of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or major depression.
At the same time, fewer than 10 percent of veterans with PTSD complete treatment programs for the disorder. Suicide among veterans has skyrocketed, and more vets have committed suicide since 2001 than have died on the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Drug Enforcement Agency advises VA on policy
The VA policy that prohibits its doctors from recommending medical marijuana derives from the advice of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, according to a policy statement given to The Independent by Sonja Brown, Chief of the Voluntary Service & Public Affairs Operations of the New Mexico VA Health Care System. This advice reflects the continued federal classification of marijuana as an illegal drug, despite the fact that 14 states now allow its use for medicinal purposes.