The majority of people enrolled in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For many veterans, however, the Albuquerque VA hospital is their primary source of health care but physicians employed there are forbidden from recommending medical marijuana to their patients.
The VA bases their “no medical marijuana” policy on the advice of the Drug Enforcement Agency. Despite New Mexico’s medical marijuana program, marijuana is still classified as an illegal drug. The VA policy works in a twofold manner:
- VA Physicians can recommend treatments outside the VA system; but
- VA physicians are encouraged to counsel patients in alternative treatments to marijuana.
Many veterans complain the standard pills used to control their PTSD symptoms resulted in the veterans feeling as if they were in a “zombie-like” state whereas medical marijuana allows them to lower the amount of prescription pills they take and does not include such severe side effects.
There is some research supporting the idea that marijuana does help veterans suffering from PTSD garner some relief.
The reality of the current situation is that veterans often self-medicate with the most common choices being alcohol or prescription drugs. The VA will help veterans that come off active duty addicted to pain killers, but that veteran will have a real problem if he or she tests positive for marijuana.
Essentially, the VA refuses to help veterans obtain a state license for medical marijuana. If they do, however, obtain a license, the VA may possibly accommodate those veterans in its rehabilitation programs. The Albuquerque VA has not yet said if they will consider a veteran’s positive drug test for marijuana as a relapse if that veteran has a state license.
Learn more about the Albuquerque VA’s policy regarding medical marijuana.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.