The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is being pressured by members of both houses of Congress to allow for the study and possible availability of medical cannabis in states where the product is legal.
The bipartisan group of senators and members of Congress voiced their shared opinion in a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald. The letter comes just days before the expiration of a directive, known as VHA Directive 2011-004, that prohibits VA physicians from recommending cannabis as a method of medical treatment.
“According to the current directive, VA providers are prohibited from completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran’s participation in a state-sanctioned marijuana program,” the letter partially reads. “This policy disincentivizes doctors and patients from being honest with each other.”
The bipartisan group was led by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif.) It was signed by a total of 21 senators and House members, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
“We should be doing everything we can to make life easier for our veterans,”
“Prohibiting VA doctors from talking to their patients about medical marijuana just doesn’t make sense.”
The issuance of the letter was applauded by the Marijuana Policy Project, a group dedicated to advancing the cause of legalized cannabis.