Veterans in states with medical-marijuana laws will be allowed to use the drug without losing their access to pain medication under a new policy announced by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The New York Times reported July 23 that the new policy won’t allow VA hospitals or clinics to prescribe medical marijuana, but will create an exception for medical users of the drug who otherwise could face loss of their pain medications for illicit drug use.
Concerns about being punished for using medical marijuana had led some veterans to avoid using the VA system, experts said.
“By creating a directive on medical marijuana, the VA ensures that throughout its vast hospital network, it will be well understood that legal medical marijuana use will not be the basis for the denial of services,” said Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access.
“We now have a branch of the federal government accepting marijuana as a legal medicine,” said Steve Fox, government-relations director for the Marijuana Policy Project.