Many vets will first be testing the waters with their doctors before jumping into the conversation, the new directive a handy floatation device.
A new directive from the Veterans Health Administration suggests that vets be open with their doctors about their cannabis use. While on the surface this seems like a step in the right direction for cannabis reform, it’s confusing and potentially harmful to vets with doctors who don’t agree with the use of medical marijuana.
As it is, Veterans have a tight lipped stance when it comes to most VA doctors. That’s because many have lost their pain management or know a vet who has and they keep that in mind when discussing cannabis. Many with chronic pain know they’ll at least be taken off opiates if they test positive for cannabis during a urine screening.
Even though the new directive encourages open discussion, two major problems loom. One is the recent actions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in rescinding an Obama era piece of legislation called the Cole memo. The Cole memo kept federal prosecutors from coming down on cannabis businesses that were compliant with state laws. The other problem is marijuana’s rank as a Schedule I drug.
To be a Schedule I drug, a substance must have no known medical benefits and have a high potential for abuse. Cannabis doesn’t fit the bill on either of those, yet its scheduling is a main argument for those on the anti-pot side of the argument.
And even with having given the new guidance, the Veterans Health Administration’s position hasn’t changed. Until cannabis is descheduled, the VA cannot recommend marijuana as a treatment for pain, PTSD or even cancer and chemotherapy side effects. In other words, patients have to ask themselves what the point of bringing it up might be.
Then again, many patients and doctors see the new recommendation as a good thing, citing the fact that a doctor should know about everything that their patient is taking and for what. Which is hard to argue.
It’s a sticky subject with no clear answer, though it seems that the best path to take is the one of honesty, especially with the new directive. Many vets will first be testing the waters with their doctors before jumping into the conversation, the new directive a handy floatation device.