VA urges vets, doctors to talk about pot

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is what number of veterans have approached well being care conversations about marijuana use with the doctors they see from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Worried that proudly owning up to utilizing the drug might jeopardize their VA advantages — even when they’re collaborating in a medical marijuana program authorised by their state — veterans have typically stored mum. That could also be altering beneath a brand new directive from the Veterans Health Administration urging vets and their physicians to open up on the topic.

The new steerage directs VA medical employees and pharmacists to talk about with veterans how medical marijuana might work together with different drugs or features of their care, together with remedy for ache administration or post-traumatic stress dysfunction.

The directive leaves in place a key prohibition: VA suppliers are nonetheless not permitted to recommend veterans attempt state-approved medical marijuana packages, as a result of the drug is against the law underneath federal regulation.

Veterans cautious

That disconnect makes veterans cautious, stated Michael Krawitz, a disabled Air Force veteran in Ironto, Va., who takes oxycodone and marijuana to deal with in depth accidents he suffered in a motorbike accident whereas stationed in Guam in 1984.

“Vets are happy that there’s a policy, but they’re unnerved by that prohibition,” he stated.

Krawitz, 55, is the chief director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, an advocacy group. He has all the time been open together with his VA doctors about his medical marijuana use and hasn’t suffered any adverse penalties. But Krawitz stated he has labored with veterans who’ve been kicked out of their VA ache administration program after a constructive drug check and advised they couldn’t proceed till they stopped utilizing hashish.

Such actions are often misunderstandings that may be corrected, he stated, however he means that the Veterans Health Administration ought to present clear steerage to its employees about the brand new directive so veterans aren’t harmed in the event that they admit to utilizing marijuana.

Although the brand new steerage encourages communication about veterans’ use of marijuana, the company’s place on the drug hasn’t modified, stated Curtis Cashour, a VA spokesman.

Cashour referred to a quote from Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who stated at a White House briefing in May that he thought that amongst “some of the states that have put in appropriate controls [on the use of medical marijuana], there may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful. And we’re interested in looking at that and learning from that.” But till federal regulation modifications, the secretary stated, the VA just isn’t “able to prescribe medical marijuana.”

Cashour declined to present additional info about the brand new directive.


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