What is the VA Policy On Veterans and Medical Marijuana
Multiple states have approved the use of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes. While federal law still classifies marijuana as a controlled substance and the United States of Veteran Affairs is required to follow the federal law, veteran participation in local marijuana programs doesn’t compromise their eligibility for VA care and services.
As long as veterans declare their marijuana use to the provider, the information remains private and won’t stop them from receiving their benefits. The VA policy on veterans and medical marijuana in Texas has increasingly come into focus thanks to recent policy changes. Here are some key things to note about the policy and veteran accessibility to medical marijuana in Texas.
What is the VA Policy?
The VA policy dissuades veterans from using medical marijuana, with the website clearly stating that substances deemed illegal at the federal level can’t be recommended or prescribed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. As long as the Food and Drug Administration classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, VA healthcare providers may not recommend or assist veterans in accessing it.
However, healthcare providers record marijuana use in the VA medical record to have information readily available for treatment planning. While VA clinicians cannot recommend medical marijuana or pay for any medical marijuana prescriptions from any source, VA scientists conduct research on its benefits and risks of it under regulatory approval.
The most likely way that Veterans Affairs medical providers will get clearance to recommend medical marijuana or sign off on prescriptions is through the introduction of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. This act, which decriminalizes marijuana, was passed by the House this past April, potentially opening a pathway for a phased introduction to medical marijuana for VA patients. As it stands, the VA policy subjects veterans to drug testing and prevents veterans from possessing marijuana on any VA grounds.
The VA Policy and the Compassionate Use Program
In September 2021, Texas expanded its Compassionate Use program, allowing people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder to access medical marijuana. Residents can legally access medical marijuana through a qualified physician’s prescription or recommendation. Previously, only people with intractable epilepsy could capitalize on the program. However, the list of conditions was expanded to include PTSD, multiple sclerosis, autism, cancer, and seizures.
Anyone with these conditions can access low-THC medical marijuana products for treatment. Despite the changes in medical marijuana laws in Texas, those changes are unlikely to affect Veteran Affairs beneficiaries. As federal laws continue to classify marijuana as illegal and prevent VA physicians from completing paperwork to enroll in state-driven marijuana programs, The Compassionate Use program can’t help them. With that being said, veterans are not denied VA services when participating in state-approved programs and can discuss medical marijuana use with physicians to best furnish VA healthcare. At this moment, it’s a work in progress.
What Does The Future Hold?
Unless the MORE Act is fully enacted and gives VA physicians the green light to recommend and prescribe medical marijuana in Texas, VA beneficiaries can only talk to their physicians about medical marijuana as a part of comprehensive care planning. It should be noted, however, that retired and separated military members don’t face punitive measures for sharing such information. The VA policy allows caregivers to make conscious decisions about veteran healthcare, potentially leading to the recommendation of an adjusted healthcare strategy. Book an appointment on our website and find out how you can receive a Texas medical marijuana card from compassionate doctors.
Aaron Bloom serves as the CEO, overseeing the mission and growth of DocMJ and Medwell Health and Wellness Centers. Aaron’s passion for improving patients’ lives comes from his background in health care. For more than 20 years, Aaron owned, operated, and represented traditional healthcare organizations. This experience created a passion for finding improved ways to relieve suffering. His goal as CEO is to work daily to relieve all patients who seek better health and wellness through the medicinal benefits of medical cannabis and evidence-based alternative medicines.