In a move that could have implications for federal marijuana laws, 21 members of Congress are urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to do away with a policy that bans VA doctors from discussing medical marijuana treatments with patients.
According to the lawmakers, the prohibition creates barriers that “interfere with the doctor-patient relationship” and “disincentivizes doctors and patients from being honest with each other.”
Medical marijuana is already legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Seventeen other states have adopted laws that allow marijuana derivatives to be used for certain medical treatments.
But because marijuana possession remains illegal under federal law, the VA does not consider it viable for medicinal use even in states where it is legal.
An amendment to the Veterans Affairs spending bill last year would have allowed VA doctors to begin discussing medical marijuana with patients, but the measure was stripped out at the last minute.
The move to get the VA to consider medical marijuana as a viable treatment option comes as many lawmakers are working to loosen federal restrictions on the drug.
In 2015, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sponsored legislation to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, which would reduce hurdles for researchers looking into possible medical uses for the drug.
Currently, federal bureaucrats cite a lack of research into marijuana’s effectiveness as a treatment option for various conditions as one reason for the VA’s continued prohibition on discussions about the drug in its hospitals.
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