• The VA is stuck between state, federal laws on medical marijuana

    By: Steve Gehlbach

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - There is a new push for veterans to get access to medical marijuana for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

    But recently, the Trump administration has come out against three different bills that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs clinics to prescribe medical marijuana.

    Many believe medical marijuana is much safer than opioids that VA doctors currently prescribe. They say cannabis oil treats pain, as well as seizures and depression.

    And now that Georgia has a legal medical marijuana program, like dozens of other states, it’s nearly impossible for doctors at the VA to prescribe it and for vets to use it.

    The VA is stuck between state and federal laws on marijuana.

    Some lawmakers in Washington are now pushing for new policies and laws, so veterans don’t risk losing any federal VA benefits, if they take part in state marijuana programs, like in Georgia.

    “This medicine changed my life,” said veteran Kyle White.

    White uses cannabis oil to treat his PTSD and fought back tears in a plea to lawmakers to pass Georgia’s medical marijuana bill.


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    New bills in Congress, debated this week in the House Veteran’s Affairs committee, looks at the opioid crisis, high rates prescribed by VA doctors, and links to twice the risk of suicide among vets.

    “I think there’s some correlation. They can’t prove it but when you look at 20 suicides a day, that’s unacceptable,” said Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan.

    Buchanan is the bill’s sponsor and said the committee is also reviewing three other pieces of legislation dealing with medical marijuana for veterans as a possible safer, opioid alternative to prevent suicides and overdoes.

    “We need to figure a better way other than these high-powered addictive drugs,” Buchanan said.

    The VA under the Trump administration has opposed making medical marijuana available to veterans because federal law still classifies it as an illegal, schedule-one narcotic.

    Any changes for the VA may first need to go through the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department.

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