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Jul 24 2010

The VA Eases the Rules on Medical Marijuana Use: Up Dated x 2

VA doctors still can’t prescribe marijuana but the patients in the 14 states where it is legal, no longer have to fear losing their VA benefits if the are found using marijuana. Certainly a step in the right direction for many patients.

V.A. Easing Rules for Users of Medical Marijuana

DENVER – The Department of Veterans Affairs will formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for several years.

A department directive, expected to take effect next week, resolves the conflict in veterans facilities between federal law, which outlaws marijuana, and the 14 states that allow medicinal use of the drug, effectively deferring to the states.

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Veterans, some of whom have been at the forefront of the medical marijuana movement, praised the new policy. They say cannabis helps sooth physical and psychological pain and can alleviate the side effects of some treatments.

“By creating a directive on medical marijuana, the V.A. ensures that throughout its vast hospital network, it will be well understood that legal medical marijuana use will not be the basis for the denial of services,” Mr. Krawitz said.

Many clinicians already prescribe pain medication to veterans who use medical marijuana for pain management, as there was no rule explicitly prohibiting them from doing so, despite the federal marijuana laws.

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Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, which favors the legal regulation of the drug, called the decision historic. “We now have a branch of the federal government accepting marijuana as a legal medicine,” he said.

But Mr. Fox said he wished the policy had been extended to veterans who lived in states where medical marijuana was not legal.

Mr. Fox said it was critical that the veterans department make clear its guidelines on medical marijuana to patients and medical staff members, something officials said they planned on doing in coming weeks.

Up Date Currently in California there is a proposal on the ballot to legalize marijuana use. Proposition 19 is lagging in the polls:

Prop. 19: Marijuana Legalization

The poll shows Prop. 19 losing narrowly, 48-44, with eight percent undecided. Of all four ballot initiatives polled, it had the most voter recognition. A full 77 percent of those polled had heard of it. This continues the pattern we have seen in other polls, with almost all voters having an opinion of Prop. 19 and very few undecided.

Men slightly favor Prop. 19, 48-47, but women disapprove, 50-41. The Field Poll also confirms the pattern of young voters under the age of 30 heavily supporting marijuana legalization, 52-39, but those over 65 opposing it strongly, 57-33. Support divides fairly evenly for voters between 30 and 65. The success or failure of Prop. 19 will probably depend on whether marijuana legalization being on the ballot motivates young supporters to turn out in unusually high numbers.

h/t to Jon Walker @ FDL

Up Date 2 Here is the link to the panel discussion from NN10 on the California Prop 19

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