va hospital doctors medical marijuana
Medical Marijuana Policy

Former VA Doctor: Congress Should End Medical Marijuana Gag Order On VA Doctors

va hospital doctors medical marijuana
(via wikipedia)

If there is any group in America that should be allowed to consume marijuana for medical purposes, it’s our military veterans. They served our country proudly, and fought for liberty. Yet, our military veterans are not even able to get medical marijuana advice from doctors at VA hospitals. The federal government has a gag order in place that prevents VA doctors from even talking about medical marijuana to patients, even if they know it would help alleviate the patients suffering. That’s obviously unacceptable.

Veterans suffer from various ailments like many other people in America, and in some cases, they suffer greatly. They should be allowed to not only talk to their doctor(s) about medical marijuana, they should be able to use it without question because it’s a scientifically proven, effective treatment for many things. A retired VA doctor, E. Deborah Gilman, MD, recently wrote an article for The Hillin which she called on Congress to lift the gag order on VA doctors:

It’s true that we could use more studies on marijuana, and we would have them if government agencies weren’t actively obstructing them, but the fact of the matter is we have enough information to know that medical marijuana can be a safe and effective treatment for a variety of medical conditions. The clinical and anecdotal evidence for marijuana as a treatment for nausea, appetite loss, muscle spasticity, and severe and chronic pain is overwhelming.

It would be cruel to deny access to any medication for any patient when his or her doctor decides the benefits outweigh the risks and recommends it, but that’s particularly true for veterans and medical marijuana. Our men and women in uniform make incredible sacrifices for our country, and the least we could do make every possible treatment option available to them when they come home.

Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with debilitating injuries are often prescribed highly addictive opioid painkillers with severe side effects, particularly for long-term use. Marijuana poses significantly less risk of dependence, along with fewer and less severe side effects. What’s more, studies have shown marijuana can be an effective supplemental therapy by reducing patients’ reliance on opioids, or even acting as a “reverse gateway” by replacing narcotic painkillers altogether. Other research shows states where medical marijuana is legal have a 25 percent lower rate of fatal overdoses from opioids.

The guest article on The Hill can be read in full at the link I provided above. I encourage you to read it, and share it with anyone that is skeptical about military veterans using medical marijuana. After all, it was written by someone who was a VA doctor for over two decades. The article was written in anticipation of the now failed vote that would have reformed federal medical marijuana policy had it passed. Sadly, the bill was voted down by just three votes.

But there is a silver lining, in that we are obviously close. Keep contacting your federal representatives and either 1) thank them for voting ‘yes’ on the bill if they did so, and encourage them to do it again the next time they get the opportunity, or 2) ask them why they voted ‘no’ if they did so, and try to educate them in a firm but polite way about the scientific evidence that is already out there that proves that marijuana has medical value. Sharing the article I linked to above would be a great place to start!

 

  • AntiIgnorant

    Everybody that can benefit from cannabis should be allowed to have it, no questions asked. Period. It is safer than alcohol, pharmaceuticals and tobacco. I use it to treat insomnia when all of the pharmaceuticals for this purpose left me too dopey or strange feeling to function properly the next day at work. I finally got fed up, remembered how well I used to sleep before getting the corporate job that carried the random drug test policy… Now, I sleep great on cannabis, feel great the next day and have decided the job is less collateral damage than my health. I can get another job.

    I feel really bad for anyone in a position like myself or worse that needs cannabis and has to make these decisions to seek out a superior medicine in a prohibitionist society.

    Legalize cannabis! Stop the lies already, we know it’s safer than alcohol and legitimate medicine.

  • PhDScientist

    Please call your senators, congress person, and the white house comment line and ask that marijuana be taken off of schedule 1 immediately.

  • Inmate420

    Here we go again with a FORMER somebody speaking out against prohibition. I have no interest in has-beens voicing their opinions. I want to see the current office holders take a stand against it. So few people, in positions to actually make a difference, are willing to risk anything to stand against the status quo concerning prohibition and the ones that do I applaud. I stood against my family, employer and city counsel concerning the double standard applied to cannabis consumers and laws. I fought the local establishment and have lost more than I care to admit but at least I am not two-faced. To bad all the fools who agreed with me in whispers didn’t have the courage to stand up when it counted. I am sure they will when they are a FORMER and have nothing to loose.

    • JR

      Hey 420, If we can get anyone to speak out about all the injustice, please let them speak. I would love to go my local dispensary and get whatever I want.

    • tragicnbad

      I understand your frustration with the former this and former thats coming out on this issue. But you are not the only person to impress here. Possibly her lead is needed by her colleagues at the VA that are still employed. This is a important issue of freedom, but most people would not risk their livelihood speaking out for it. It seems to not matter to you, but her opinion could speak volumes to somebody else that really does matter.As well as back their opinion if they were to stand up against it. If you look at the group LEAP it is comprised of former and current law enforcement members, so there is hope to convince others in positions that matter..As benign as it seems, I believe Every voice is needed.A fine example is our Attorney General Eric Holder that spoke out on how we need to take another look into marijuana, something he could have easily accomplished while he was in office. Yet he waited till he was stepping down and there was little time to accomplish anything before he spoke up. They tout his name like he was a positive thing towards ending this ridiculous war against a plant. But, he basically watched as over a million arrests for marijuana were happening under his watch. All while he had the power to reschedule or totally remove it from the schedule list all together, at anytime he chose. And probably could even do it now before he truly steps down, but he won’t. But his words, along with growing public opinion may sway change for the next Attorney General. So every voice of reason that we didn’t have before is one that you should welcome.

    • Denny

      Any positive voice is a good thing, and smacking them down doesn’t help move the issue forward.
      Common sense dictates weighing the potential outcome of one’s actions versus how much they, and possibly their family, have to lose.