ASA addresses the hypocrisy of the VA decision to allow for medical cannabis use.

As usual, Americans for Safe Access is beating down the walls of Federal intolerance of medical cannabis. The day is coming where the Feds will no longer be able to kick in the doors of patients and providers to fuel their misguided war on cannabis. Thanks ASA. As usual, you continue to cut off the head of the dragon and make the world a better place for all of us.

Federal Medical Marijuana Legal Challenge Bolstered by New Veterans Policy Directive

VA policy undermines federal position that “marijuana has no currently accepted medical use”

San Francisco, CA — Medical marijuana patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed an important legal brief today in a Ninth Circuit case which aims to correct statements by the federal government that “marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” The ASA legal filing points to a policy directive issued last week by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), recognizing medical marijuana and distinguishing it from other illegal controlled substances. In its brief, ASA contends that the VHA directive bolsters advocates’ arguments that marijuana does indeed have medical value.

“Recognition of marijuana’s therapeutic benefits by a federal agency makes it more difficult for the government to argue against marijuana’s medical value,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the notice with the court. “The government’s reasons for maintaining an outdated and harmful position on medical marijuana are running out.” In the July 22nd policy directive, the VHA reversed its position that medical marijuana is no different than other banned controlled substances, and instructed VA physicians that “patients participating in state medical marijuana programs must not be denied VHA services.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel also clarified in a July 6th letter to veteran advocate Michael Krawitz that, “If a veteran obtains and uses medical marijuana in a manner consistent with state law, testing positive for marijuana would not preclude the Veteran from receiving opioids for pain management.” The letter further stated that, “Standard pain management agreements should draw a clear distinction between the use of illegal drugs, and legal medical marijuana.” ASA has received numerous reports of veterans being denied pain medication for refusing to discontinue their use of medical marijuana. In many cases, the therapeutic use of marijuana has significantly diminished veterans’ need for pharmaceutical medication.

ASA filed its lawsuit in February of 2007 in an attempt to correct the government’s position on medical marijuana. After the challenge was denied by the U.S. District Court, ASA filed an appeal in April of 2008 and is still awaiting a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. ASA’s lawsuit was preceded by an administrative petition filed in 2005 under the Data Quality Act, a law passed during the Clinton Administration to ensure that the government bases its policy decisions on sound science and not politics.

According to Krawitz’s group, Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, more than 100,000 veterans, or 27% of veterans treated by the VA, have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Based on reports received by ASA, PTSD is one of the most common medical conditions that veterans treat using medical marijuana.

Further Information:
Veterans Health Administration policy directive issued on July 22nd:
Letter from Department of Veterans Affairs to veteran advocate Michael
Legal brief filed today by ASA:
Data Quality Act appeal filed by ASA:

3 thoughts on “ASA addresses the hypocrisy of the VA decision to allow for medical cannabis use.”

  1. It is ridiculous. I did my internship at the Long Beach VA. We prescribed narcotics and other poisons as if they were going out of style. We even had to beg the VA to prohibit smoking in the hospital, and they refused because “smoking is legal.” Finally, it was outlawed inside the hospital.

    The hospital was filled with people dying from alcohol and tobacco. I will never forget the horrors I saw as a result of alcohol and tobacco. The death from alcohol is just like cancer, but worse. The DT’s is unbelievable. People screaming, hallucinating horrid things, etc. We had to tie them down with leather restraints and even with heavy sedation they would hallucinate and scream for hours on end.

    Cannabis should be 100% legal.

    The hypocrisy must end!

  2. Aspirin Can Kill You, Cannabis Can’t

    On July 15, 1977, I received my M.D. degree from Jefferson Medical College and moved to California to begin my internship in Internal Medicine at the Long Beach V.A. Hospital. It was an honor and a privilege to serve our nation’s veterans, the majority of who informed me of their opposition to the laws against cannabis. They fought and sacrificed for our freedoms and the values upon which our country was founded. Regretfully, in 2009, these freedoms and values are still not being granted to those Americans who use cannabis.

    My first V.A. “rotation” was on the G.I. (gastrointestinal) ward. This ward was filled with veterans dying from alcohol-induced diseases. It was a sad place. Many suffered, and ultimately died a miserable death. One evening, I admitted a patient to the I.C.U. with severe internal bleeding due to aspirin. This patient was taking the aspirin in the recommended dose for arthritis and ended up with a bleeding stomach ulcer. G.I bleeding from causes other than alcohol was unusual for the G.I ward, but the treatments were the same.

    My new patient, Mr. H, was in excruciating pain and was vomiting up large amounts of bright, red blood. His life was in grave danger so I immediately inserted a tube into his stomach in order to directly deliver medications and irrigate the internal bleeding site with iced, cold water. Mr. H could not stop shaking with chills from the frigid water irrigations.

    This went on all night. I stood at his bedside fighting alongside him trying to save his life. As sore and stiff as my hands and arms had become, I did not stop irrigating his stomach. He slipped in and out of a coma as the hours passed by. At 5 A.M, the bleeding intensified. This battle was being lost. The only option left was stomach surgery. This was undertaken and was successful . His life was saved. Mr. H was one of the lucky ones who survived a bleeding ulcer.

    Shortly after my internship, the NSAIDs were developed. These include Aleve (naproxen), Advil (ibuprofen) and Motrin (ibuprofen). These newer, over the counter drugs, can also cause internal bleeding and death, but the risks are lower as compared to aspirin. Nonetheless, the risks are real and many people end up like, Mr. H, or even worse.

    In conclusion, there are many dangerous and deadly drugs, which are readily available at our neighborhood supermarkets and pharmacies. Even our children can buy them if they please. However, nobody is arrested for selling or using aspirin, an NSAID, or any other of the numerous, lethal over the counter drugs. Ironically, people are still being persecuted, arrested and imprisoned every day for using one of the least toxic and most beneficial substances on our planet; cannabis.

  3. The above article regarding aspirin was an editorial written in 2009 for “The West Coast Leaf,” thus the date of 2009.

    I thought it was worthy of a re-print here.

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