Veterans Can’t Get A Doctor’s Approval for Medical Marijuana Through VA System

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- If you're a veteran who gets medical care from the VA, you will  not be able to get a doctor's approval through the VA for a medical marijuana card.

Chief of staff at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks Dr. Mark Worley said that's because pot is still illegal under federal law, even though medical marijuana is now legal on the state level.

“Even though the state of Arkansas has passed medical marijuana, we are prohibited as a federal agency for prescribing medical marijuana or even signing medical certificates for that,” he said.

Patients who decide to use medical marijuana will not be denied care at the VA, but their VA doctor may have to look at modifying their treatment plan.

Dr. Worley said they have pain agreements with patients who are on opioid medications that they won't get any other medications outside the VA including marijuana.

“We're really trying to err on the side of being as cautious as possible not to have any drug interactions to keep them safe, and so it starts a conversation," he said. "We won't continue to prescribe if they are taking chronic marijuana as well."

He said there isn't a whole lot of research about marijuana and how effective it actually is. He also said they are trying to get as many patients as they can off opioids.

“We have a lot of alternatives to chronic pain," Worley said. "Some of the latest literature suggests that physical therapy, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, chiropractic care -- and we are offering those modalities to all patients because I want them off all drugs.”

Since marijuana is illegal under federal law that means you cannot bring it onto federal property, which includes the VA, national parks or federal government agencies. If you do, you could be charged with a federal crime and be prosecuted.