Veterans and Arizona Medical Marijuana
Veterans in Arizona have the ability to access medical marijuana by receiving a medical marijuana card from a qualified Arizona doctor. Our medical marijuana doctors have provided education and cards for many of Arizona's veterans seeking to use marijuana in their treatment plan. In this post we will discuss how medical marijuana is a wonderful addition to many veterans treatment plans.
How Can Medical Marijuana Help Veterans
While advocates for veterans have been encouraging more research into medical marijuana, progress has been slow. Currently, federal doctors are not able to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans.
Many veterans suffer from one of more of Arizona's medical marijuana qualifying conditions, often related to their time in service. For example, there are estimates that 20% of the 2.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returned with mild or severe cases of PTSD. Also, many veterans also suffer from chronic pain as a result of their service. Many veterans, sadly, may end up on long term prescription medications that have numerous side effects, can be addictive, and may not even provide the relief they are desperately seeking. Medical Marijuana can be a great compliment to therapy as it has shown to greatly improve the effects of PTSD and chronic pain. In addition to PTSD and chronic pain, as veterans age, many also suffer from other qualifying conditions like cancers, tremors, and arthritis that may impact quality of life. Medical marijuana has been shown to help ease the symptoms from these conditions. Arizona has identified a list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana that can be viewed here. Our medical marijuana doctors work with veterans to create a treatment plan to address these conditions in a more holistic and safe approach than opioids.
Anecdotally, we have learned from many of our veterans that by using Medical Marijuana they were able to drastically reduce or eliminate the need for addictive opioids.
Can Having a Card Affect Eligibility for VA Care
Veterans who are part of the Arizona Medical Marijuana program are still fully eligible for VA care and services. The VA's website does state that any illegal substance on the federal level, which marijuana is, is not permitted to be used, recommended, prescribed, or endorsed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. But we have heard from our veteran patients that often, VA providers discuss the benefits of marijuana with veterans as part of their complete care plan. It is important to note that the VA's website also states that, “Veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of marijuana use” and that veterans “are encouraged to discuss marijuana use with their VA providers.” We always recommend our patients discuss their marijuana use with their VA doctors and care team.
The VA and Medical Marijuana
The following are important things to note when discussing the VA and Medical Marijuana:
Veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of marijuana use.
Veterans are encouraged to discuss marijuana use with their VA providers.
VA health care providers will record marijuana use in the Veteran's VA medical record in order to have the information available in treatment planning. As with all clinical information, this is part of the confidential medical record and protected under patient privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.
VA clinicians may not recommend medical marijuana.
VA clinicians may not prescribe products containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), or any other cannabinoids.
VA clinicians may not complete paperwork/forms required for Veteran patients to participate in state-approved marijuana programs.
VA pharmacies may not fill prescriptions for medical marijuana.
VA will not pay for medical marijuana prescriptions from any source. The use or possession of marijuana is prohibited at all VA medical centers, locations and grounds. When you are on VA grounds it is federal law that is in force, not the laws of the state.
Veterans who are VA employees are subject to drug testing under the terms of their employment.
Getting Your Card
If you are a veteran ready to get your medical marijuana card, or if you have a loved one who is a veteran looking to get a card, you can find the process here. You also can reach out to our knowledgeable staff to answer any questions you may have and schedule you an appointment. You also can schedule your appointment online here. Our compassionate staff is here to help walk you through the entire process, we also offer a free visit with our patient educator for every patient. These sessions help explain medical marijuana in the state of Arizona and the dispensary process. We look forward to helping you today! Please call us at 480-656-1068.