Medical Marijuana and the VA healthcare system

The official policy of the VA system is that medical marijuana is still a Schedule I drug under federal law, so they will not recommend or provide it.

However, the VA has a policy about veterans who are in state regulated medical marijuana programs. This Veterans Administration policy clearly states that the VA cannot deny care to a veteran because they are in a state regulated medical marijuana program.

Here’s the official VA policy on pain clinics prescribing medicines like opioids to patients who are in a state regulated medical marijuana program, from the 2011   VHA  directive 2011-004 :

 While patients participating in State marijuana programs must not be denied VHA services, the decisions to modify treatment plans in those situations need to be made by individual providers in partnership with their patients.

That’s it. That means that the VA is leaving it up to you and your practitioner on how to integrate medical marijuana into your VA based treatment plan.

One reasonable practice pattern for VA practitioners  might simply be to note the patient’s medical marijuana use and continue their care for the patient  which meets the standard of care guidelines for the individual state the practitioner is licensed in.

Regarding medical records, remember that a patient’s medical record belongs to the patient.   New York State law requires doctors and hospitals to provide patients access to their medical records.

Veterans can also sign up for a  MyHealtheVet Premium account and go through the authentication process.  They can then  can download their own medical records using the VA Blue Button method.

Just as an editorial note, we think that our veterans deserve everything we can do to help them live their lives better.  Some of these guys never came back. Let’s do something  sensible and tangible to help the guys who did make it back.