VA Should Let Doctors ‘Verbally’ Recommend Medical Marijuana Amid Coronavirus, Lawmakers Say | Marijuana Moment

  • As this global pandemic continues to adversely affect veterans’ behavioral and physical health conditions, we believe that veterans who legally use cannabis in the Commonwealth to treat their ailments deserve to receive more robust assistance from qualified medical personnel at their local VA, the lawmakers, including House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA), wrote, adding that they feel VA should consider making this directive
  • It’s unclear what the practical impact of allowing VA doctors to make verbal recommendations would be, given that state medical marijuana certifications generally require a written component from doctors.
  • Therefore, during this unprecedented public health emergency, VA should issue a directive explicitly authorizing its health care providers to make sensible, clinically sound verbal recommendations to veterans related to participation in state-approved medical marijuana programs and services and to provide advice to veterans as they complete forms and other paperwork reflecting those recommendations.
  • When veterans request advice on paperwork related to participating in a state-approved marijuana program, VA clinicians should be advised that they can make verbal referrals to knowledgeable non-VA providers who are registered with a state-approved program and can offer feasible options that minimize, or completely waive, the cost to the veteran, the lawmakers wrote.
  • In their letter, the Massachusetts lawmakers went on to say that VA clinicians who provide this temporary, limited assistance to veterans should be clearly advised by the VA that they will not be subject to disciplinary action, and they urged VA to work with the Justice Department to formally advise VA providers who conduct these clinical activities that they will not face criminal prosecution under federal marijuana laws.
  • By authorizing these tailored, temporary actions, the VA could help Massachusetts veterans who use, or are interested in using, medical marijuana receive more comprehensive clinical advice from their VA providers, reduce opioid addiction and substance use disorders, and achieve better health outcomes, they concluded.

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