Massachusetts lawmakers urge VA to advise veterans on medical marijuana

Massachusetts lawmakers urge VA to advise veterans on medical marijuana

A group of seven Massachusetts lawmakers recently sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), urging the agency to allow VA clinical staff to verbally recommend and advise veterans on paperwork related to the use of medical marijuana through state-approved medical marijuana programs.

The allowance would last for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Current VA policy allows staff to discuss marijuana but prohibits recommending, referring to, or completing paperwork for participation in state marijuana programs.

Some veterans may be reluctant to seek medical marijuana out of fear that it could threaten their veteran status and access to other federal benefits.

The lawmakers urged VA Secretary Robert Wilkie Jr. to issue a directive authorizing staff to make verbal recommendations about state-approved medical marijuana programs and services and to provide advice to veterans as they complete forms and other paperwork.

The lawmakers also urged the VA to authorize clinicians to make verbal referrals to knowledgeable non-VA providers who are registered with a state-approved program.

The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).

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