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Va Makes Right Call On Medical Pot Use

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VA makes right call on medical pot use


The decision by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to allow patients to use medical marijuana in the 14 states where it is legal, including California, is a humane and just call.


As it stood, VA patients who followed state guidelines and legally used marijuana were at risk of being denied pain medications.


That's because the VA has rules barring illegal drug use by patients who are taking pain medicine, and marijuana is still illegal under federal law.


The concern was that veterans might have to choose between the relief they find in medical marijuana and using the VA medical system.


We're glad the VA took this tack, and we think it's in keeping with the Obama administration's law enforcement policy on medical marijuana.


Last October, the Justice Department issued a memorandum directing U.S. attorneys to steer clear of prosecuting people who are using medical marijuana in "clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws."


Attorney General Eric Holder made clear, however, that going after commercial enterprises that were unlawfully marketing and selling marijuana was to remain a priority.


The VA's new policy, spelled out in a letter last month, is in keeping with that stance.


"If a veteran obtains and uses medical marijuana in a manner consistent with state law, testing positive for marijuana would not preclude the veteran from receiving opioids for pain management" in a VA clinic or hospital.

The decision to prescribe drugs to a veteran ought to be made on a medical basis, the letter said.


The letter also made clear that VA doctors could decline to prescribe painkillers if they thought there would be an adverse interaction between medical marijuana and another drug.


While there always are people who can manipulate their way into obtaining pain medicine, by and large those who are getting a legitimate prescription for a narcotic painkiller have faced rigorous conditions and controls for getting that medication.


The decision by the VA merely allows these sick and injured individuals to use legitimately obtained medical marijuana to ease their pain without fear.



Michael A. Komorn

Attorney and Counselor

Law Office of Michael A. Komorn

800-656-3557 (Toll Free)

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