A bill presented to the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday could end a long-standing medical marijuana gag order by the V.A.
The Veterans Equal Access Amendment (VEAA), presented by an 8 panel committee of both Republican and Democratic Representatives, was re-introduced to the general U.S. House and calls for equal access to medical marijuana for veterans in states where marijuana is used medicinally.
Previously, VA doctors were not permitted to prescribe marijuana to patients, even if it could potentially be the most effective or only remedy choice.
Physicians were not even allowed to counsel any questions from patients regarding the potential use of medical marijuana under V.H.A. Directive 2011-004. The reason for reexamining the current directive is two-fold.
In a time that sees race, gender, and marriage equality dominate the headlines, it is only right that the equality of our veterans also be considered and addressed.
As the order stands now, veterans residing in states where marijuana is medicinally legal are unfairly being blocked from potentially life-saving medical marijuana treatment.
Much of the time medical marijuana is prescribed to vets to combat PTSD and related serious mental issues. Marijuana presents a much lower risk of addiction than the clinical anti-depressants prescribed to treat the same issues.
The VEAA would disallow the VA to appropriate punishment funds to (i.e. take money from) physicians who prescribe or recommend medical marijuana use.
21st Century Thinking
The current gag order on medicinal marijuana stems from years ago when the public opinion of marijuana was still that of a ‘gateway drug’. In today’s society, however, that notion has gone by the wayside.
As recently retired V.A. physician Dr. E. Deborah Gilman put it, “Today, national opinion polls routinely find support for medical marijuana above 80 percent—an unheard of figure in today’s polarized political climate.”
Gilman also wrote this letter urging Congress to lift the medical marijuana gag order.
In recent months, even CNN’s chief medical correspondant, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has come out in support of medical marijuana treatment. While there are certainly many more studies to be done, early indications from marijuana testing facilities only further confirm this thinking.
Speaking of 21st Century thinking, much progress has been made in the past 100 years not only to drug introduction, testing, and efficacy, but also in how much we understand how different drugs interact in the body.
It is the interaction piece that is being purposefully left out by the V.A. when not allowing its physicians to discuss marijuana at all, much less interactions with other drugs in the body.
As you can imagine, a potentially dangerous situation, albeit less dangerous than not discussing the potential interactions risk between anti-depressants and other drugs.
Once again, however, in this time of race, gender, marriage, and veteran equality, the V.A. must also treat drug treatments as equal if both stand to improve a patient equally. Not allowing physicians to do so has as negative a consequences as inequality in all other areas.
If you feel that veterans who served their country with honor deserve equal access to state medical marijuana programs. Click here to demand your Representatives vote YES on the Veterans Equal Access Amendment!