At a news conference on Jan. 31st in her Manhattan office, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urged the VA to change their medical marijuana restrictions. Currently, the VA restricts their doctors from discussing cannabis as a treatment to their patients, even in legal states. As a result, countless veterans are denied a treatment that could alleviate one of the most prolific injuries incurred by serving in the military, PTSD. Gillibrand is simply proposing that veterans should have the freedom to consult their doctors about marijuana, and vice-versa, in states where the law allows such treatments.“Instead of giving our veterans this modern treatment option, we are instead letting antiquated ideology get in the way of scientific progress,” said Gillibrand.
However, the date of this conference wasn’t random, Feb. 1st is when the VA renewed their current medical marijuana policy. And under this policy, the VA denies treatment to their countless patients who could benefit from it. Dr. Jahan Marcu, of Americans for Safe Access says that medical marijuana can help treat conditions that are more common for veterans. These are incredibly serious medical problems, like chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, phantom limb pain, and of course PTSD. According to Carol D’Auria of 1010 WINS in New York city, a veteran in support of Senator Gillibrand said, “I’m always fight or flight and there’s been many times where cannabis has brought me back to a level of being a reasonable individual.”
“The VA should stop putting politics in the way of medical judgment of their doctors.”
Beyond the fact that there are patients who would like to be at least consulted about medical marijuana treatments, is the glaring refusal of the VA to adopt the opinions of the medical community. And for what? Well, Senator Gillibrand had an idea,“The VA should stop putting politics in the way of medical judgment of their doctors.” This is at a time where 23 states, almost half of the union, have adopted some form of medicinal marijuana, and there are more who plan on doing so. Yet VA policy still dictates that doctors can’t discuss, let alone offer a treatment which the doctors and people of that state, and many others, deemed effective. In essence, the VA is saying that they know what’s better for the patients than the doctors. Senator Gillibrand saw the issue similarly,“Our doctors should be allowed to follow the laws in the states where they practice medicine.”
In the meantime, these statements from Senator Gillibrand will hopefully help to sway the minds of the VA policy makers. Unfortunately until then, there are going to be veterans who won’t be able to make use of the laws of their state to receive the medicine that they’re in need of. And looking at the way certain news outlets cited Calvin Fay, executive of the Drug Free America Foundation, it still might be some time. Nevertheless, Senator Gillibrand’s statements were brave and considerate of veterans, and it’s nice to have a reminder that there are people in power actually trying to do good, sometimes.