The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is changing a rule that penalizes veterans using medical marijuana in the 14 states where the practice is legal, according to a departmental directive.
The change, which had been sought by some veteran groups, will prevent veterans who are prescribed and using medical marijuana in those states from losing government benefits.
The new rule does not permit VA physicians to prescribe medical marijuana, for its use to be allowed in VA facilities or for VA to pay for medical marijuana.
As an illegal drug under federal law, marijuana had presented veterans and physicians prescribing it for pain relief and other conditions with potential prosecution or loss of VA benefits.
The new rule clarifies the exceptions where veterans who use Veterans Health Administration, or VHA, services can use medical marijuana in the states that allow it.
"Although patients participating in state medical marijuana programs must not be denied VHA services, modifications may need to be made in their treatment plans," the VA said.
"Decisions to modify treatment plans in those situations are best made by individual providers in partnership with their patients," the directive said.
The Department of Veteran Affairs said medical conditions associated with the use of medical marijuana include glaucoma, chemotherapy-induced nausea, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chronic pain.
The 14 states permitting use of medical marijuana are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The new rule expires in July 2015, the VA said.
Photo: Tim Blakeley, manager of Sunset Junction medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, shows marijuana plant buds in May. Credit: Getty Images.
Stressor Determinations for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its adjudication regulations governing service connection for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by liberalizing in some cases the evidentiary standard for establishing the required in-service stressor. This amendment eliminates the requirement for corroborating that the claimed in-service stressor occurred if a stressor claimed by a veteran is related to the veteran’s fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and a VA psychiatrist or psychologist, or a psychiatrist or psychologist with whom VA has contracted, confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a diagnosis of PTSD and that the veteran’s symptoms are related to the claimed stressor, provided that the claimed stressor is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran’s service."...