In a 233-189 vote Thursday the US House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill that will bar the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from spending money to enforce an outdated policy that prohibits doctors that work for the VA from making medical marijuana recommendations in states where it is legal.
“Prohibiting VA doctors from recommending medical marijuana does nothing to help our veterans,” said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Current VA policy is preventing physicians from thoroughly monitoring patients’ medication decisions and engaging in frank conversations about available treatment options. It dramatically undermines the doctor-patient relationship.”
If the amendment passes the Senate and gains the President’s signature then government physicians would no longer have their hands tied behind their backs while discussing medical marijuana with their patients. Currently, veterans in states with medical marijuana laws must utilize the services of a doctor outside the VA system to complete state medical marijuana paperwork.
“This measure removes unnecessary barriers to medical marijuana access for the men and women who have volunteered to serve in our armed forces,” Capecchi said. “It will save veterans time and money, and it will allow them to have more open and honest discussions with their primary care providers.”
The current policy of disallowing VA doctors from discussing medical marijuana in legal states expired on January 31, 2016 but under the VA’s policy the medical marijuana ban technically remains in effect until a new policy is enacted.