This bill would clarify and codify an existing official Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) policy on medical marijuana use that protects a veteran’s benefits if they discuss medical marijuana use with their healthcare provider. This law is currently not widely known or universally followed. It would also establish a policy that states its VA policy to be supportive of medical marijuana use for veterans, and not penalize veterans who are using cannabis as an alternative form of treatment.
The following would be established as the VA’s policy regarding medical marijuana:
Veterans would be encouraged to discuss medical marijuana use with their healthcare providers without fear of negative repercussions;
Veterans shall not be denied any benefits on the basis of cannabis use;
A veteran’s participation in a state-legal marijuana program shall not affect their eligibility for VA care and services;
Marijuana use and/or possession on VA property and in VA facilities remains prohibited pursuant to federal law, regardless of state-level laws;
VA medical providers shall honor patients’ desires to seek alternative forms of treatment (including medical marijuana);
The VA acknowledges that medical marijuana use may be a legitimate alternative treatment, and VA medical providers won’t recommend a veteran for drug addiction treatment because of medical marijuana use;
VA medical providers are permitted to discuss cannabis use as part of comprehensive care planning, and may adjust treatment plans as necessary. Treatment adjustment should be relevant, and a veteran should have the freedom to seek a second opinion if they feel the change isn’t fair;
VA medical providers will annotate a veteran’s cannabis use in their medical record in order to have the information available in treatment planning. This is part of the veteran’s confidential medical record, and is protected under patient privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations. VA medical providers won’t record that a veteran has a marijuana addiction problem in their medical record if the patient is responsibly using medical marijuana;
VA clinicians shall follow federal laws and regulations relating to medical marijuana;
VA scientists may conduct research on cannabis risks and benefits, under regulatory approval; and
VA medical providers may not dissuade participation in non-VA medical marijuana research.
The VA Secretary would be responsible for disseminating this policy widely. This includes displaying it prominently in all VA hospitals and clinics, and online on the VA’s website.
If medical marijuana use becomes legal at the federal level, the ban on marijuana use and possession on VA property and in VA facilities (the fourth policy in the above list) would be lifted.