Updated on January 21, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
seeking health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are often
frustrated when seeking medical marijuana to treat their conditions. Medical marijuana remains illegal at the
federal level, so VA doctors can’t recommend it.
According to WABC News in New York, “During a recent Congressional hearing exploring bills that would
allow for expanded access to medical marijuana for veterans, representatives
for the VA indicated they would continue to oppose such policies as long as
marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.”
Under VA policy, veterans
can’t be denied benefits because of marijuana use, and vets are encouraged to
discuss their marijuana use with their providers, but VA clinicians cannot recommend medical
marijuana or issue paperwork allowing
veterans to obtain medical marijuana legally through state dispensaries. The VA
won’t pay for medical marijuana either.
In a 2019 survey by
the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 75% of veterans surveyed said
they would be “very interested” in using medical marijuana if it were
available, while only 20% said they had ever used it for medicinal purposes.
The vast majority—83%—said it should be legal for medicinal purposes.