Let VA Doctors Recommend Medical Cannabis to Veterans – Take Action Now

Medical cannabis has shown promise in treating various conditions that commonly afflict veterans, including chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety, and more. However, current federal law prohibits VA doctors from recommending or even discussing medical cannabis as a treatment option for veterans. This prevents veterans from getting potentially life-changing care and forces them to seek cannabis recommendations outside the VA system.

The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis for Veterans

Studies have found medical cannabis effective in treating conditions like:

  • Chronic pain – Cannabis can provide pain relief and reduce reliance on opioids1. This is crucial as veterans are twice as likely to die from opioid overdoses compared to civilians2.
  • PTSD – Cannabis can reduce PTSD symptoms and improve sleep quality34. Up to 20% of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans have PTSD5.
  • Anxiety, depression – Cannabis improves outcomes for veterans with anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions6.

This therapeutic potential makes access to medical cannabis crucial for veterans seeking alternative treatments.

Let VA doctors prescribe medical marijuana
Let VA doctors prescribe medical marijuana

Barriers to VA Doctors Recommending Cannabis

Despite the evidence, VA doctors cannot recommend or even discuss medical cannabis with veterans due to marijuana’s Schedule I federal status. This policy forces veterans to seek cannabis advice outside the VA system.Specific barriers include:

  • VA doctors prohibited from recommending medical cannabis7
  • VA doctors prohibited from assisting veterans in obtaining medical cannabis7
  • VA doctors prohibited from filling out state medical cannabis paperwork8
  • The VA does not allow medical cannabis on VA grounds9

Veterans Support Reforming VA Cannabis Policy

Recent surveys show strong support among veterans for allowing VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis:

  • 83% of veterans support allowing VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis10
  • 68% support federal cannabis reform10
  • 28% of veterans with PTSD reported using cannabis therapeutically11

Veterans service organizations like AMVETS, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Veterans Cannabis Project all support reforming VA cannabis policy1213.

Congressional Efforts to Reform VA Cannabis Policy

In Congress, bipartisan efforts are underway to reform VA cannabis policy, including:

  • The Veterans Equal Access Act – Allows VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis14
  • VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act – Authorizes VA cannabis research15
  • Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act – Creates 5-year safe harbor for veterans using medical cannabis16

These bills have bipartisan support but have not yet become law. Passing them would be an important step in providing veterans access to potentially life-changing medical cannabis treatments.

The Path Forward

There is tremendous therapeutic potential in medical cannabis for veterans struggling with chronic pain, PTSD and other conditions. However, outdated federal policy prevents VA doctors from recommending or even discussing cannabis as a treatment option.Veterans overwhelmingly support allowing VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis. Passing bipartisan reform legislation already introduced in Congress would help provide veterans access to the treatments they need and deserve.

Take Action: Tell Congress to Let VA Doctors Recommend Medical Cannabis

Ohio is the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana.
Ohio is the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana.

NORML recently launched a letter writing campaign urging Congress to pass legislation allowing VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis to veterans in states where it is legal.Despite medical cannabis being legal in 38 states, outdated federal policy prevents VA doctors from recommending or even discussing cannabis as a treatment option for conditions like chronic pain and PTSD. This forces veterans to seek cannabis advice outside the VA system.Over 80% of veterans support reforming VA cannabis policy. But Congress needs to hear your voice too.

Take 2 minutes to send a message to your representatives through NORML:

  1. Go to NORML’s campaign page.
  2. Enter your information to customize and send an email to your representatives instantly.
  3. Share the campaign on social media to spread the word.

Veterans deserve access to legal treatment options. Tell Congress today to reform outdated VA cannabis policy and let VA doctors recommend medical cannabis.

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