VA Directive Allows Veterans to Use Medical Cannabis in Clinics Where it’s Legal Under State Law

[Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to make it clear that this directive was issued in 2010; unfortunately most clinics have ignored it and disallowed medical cannabis use onsite, citing federal law.]

The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department issued a new directive in 2010 which effectively altered the group’s national va_sealpolicies in regards to medical cannabis. Under this directive, veterans are allowed to consume cannabis at clinics located in states which have legalized the substance for medical use; the policy was a major shift; prior to the change, veterans lost VA benefits if they were caught using cannabis, even if they were qualified patients under state law, and used the cannabis for entirely legitimate medical purposes.

“For years, there have been veterans coming back from the Iraq war who needed medical marijuana and had to decide whether they were willing to cut down on their VA medications,” states John Targowski, a legal adviser for the group Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, who praised the change.

Under these rules, clinics aren’t be authorized to distribute medical cannabis, but veterans who are qualified patients are allowed to consume cannabis they’ve already obtained.

Despite this change veterans are still suffering with the dilemma of abiding federal (or in some cases state) law, or using a natural, nonlethal medicine which they find to be far more beneficial than deadly pharmaceutical treatments.

The answer? Legalize medical cannabis across the board, including putting a swift end to federal prohibition.



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    • Trisha on October 9, 2016 at 3:06 pm
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    I am not a Veteran, but a 37yo mommy of three and have been diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer that metastasized through my organs to my bones and as of last month to my brain.. please legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal use! I don’t want to die but if I do I want my children to have the opportunity to be cured.. thank you!

    • Anonymous on May 17, 2016 at 8:24 am
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    I’m a100% disabled veteran with a brain tumor .I’ve had spinal meningitis 9 times. . marijuana is only a herb. Why not legalize it. In there are avlot of vets sick dying. …..PLEASE LEGALIZE MEDICAL CANNABIS IT THE BEST MED IN THE WORLD

    • Anonymous on November 3, 2015 at 9:00 am
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    I want to know what ratio is the VA can cut you of#off from smoking. I told them the pain pills weren’t working anymore
    BEnd on them for 25 yrs. My Dr said I would not ever get my pain pills back. I am still 100% disable n unemployable
    Just fed up in Fl

    • Anonymous on June 29, 2015 at 2:41 pm
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    What if I want to give up my Narcotics and just use MJ? Will the VA still provide medical care to me?

    • Steven North on May 24, 2015 at 6:49 am
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    As a Veteran, I am always in favor of helping other Vets. Giving Veterans clear and accurate information should always be first. The VA Directive, mentioned in this blog and many others is misleading and inaccurate. Notice that non of these blogs, opinion articles never supply a link to the actual document. the only part relevant in the document is number 2. d. “VHA policy does not administratively prohibit Veterans who participate in State
    marijuana programs from also participating in VHA substance abuse programs, pain control
    programs, or other clinical programs where the use of marijuana may be considered inconsistent
    with treatment goals. While patients participating in State marijuana programs must not be
    denied VHA services, the decisions to modify treatment plans in those situations need to be
    made by individual providers in partnership with their patients.

    Here is the link to the full document.

  1. I do not wish to say my name unless I have to present my self to congress over this,

    I would like to say that marijuana should be legal . I’m 27 years old never been arrested , never done a crime, I been smoking about 17 years now , no damages to my body, no damages to my mind , I speak 4 language’s, in other worlds marijuana never killed any brain cells.

    Has the part of marijuana being a gate way drug to other drugs its 100% not true , again been smoking for 17 yrs , never done heroin or any drugs .In fact you could even use me has a test subject , coca cola does more damage to your body and yet its legal , cigarette is legal and alcohol is legal . Honestly find it funny that every congress that does not support marijuana being legal is always because they will lose $ if it becomes legal. its not a big deal .In fact I have not smoked for the past 37 days because I wanted to prove that marijuana is not a drug . Should be legal 100% to adults above age of 21 . in fact it does not effect your ability to operate heavy machine . I Have driven after smoking, control heavy machines , done jobs , even saved a life after smoking marijuana, again I would love to be use has a test subject to prove that marijuana is not a drug or does any damages to your body . If cigarette’s/alcohol/ coca-cola is legal marijuana should be also .

    thank you for taken your time to read this you have a good day 🙂

      • Anonymous on June 9, 2016 at 12:57 pm
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      I like the way you think, I had an accident at work which left me disabled, I have been on oxy for 9 yers and its not working as well as it was, I would rather have a chance with medical MJ instead of taking this nasty medication, I’m also a veteran with 4 months shy of 9 years. Thank you for backing us veterans,, Abingdon.Md.

    • Randy on March 7, 2015 at 12:34 pm
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    I need some help getting my medical marijuana card I have been disabled and injured a long time I smoke some marijuana and I am almost off all my pills and I was taking a whole lot of pills I will write you all about it later I live in Virginia I need some help getting my medical marijuana card

      • Anonymous on May 28, 2015 at 7:30 pm
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      I’m in the same boat as you. And I also live in Virginia.

    • Barry on November 4, 2014 at 4:55 am
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    I’m 70% from the VA, never touched any drugs until I did 5 tours to Iraq. Since 03 I started Oxy, and for about 10 years I kept it in check, but at the end of the 10 years I was taking 10 5mg pills a day. Started smoking weed, all that shit is out of my system in a month and I’m never going to back to the drugs the VA gives you.
    I’m just concerned now because I have a job offer with the VA, but I have a legal green card for medicinal cannabis (WA). I hope I get hired… we’ll see.

      • Anonymous on June 9, 2016 at 1:05 pm
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      Where did or how did you get that card? Maryland

    • Diana Vance on June 18, 2014 at 9:40 pm
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    I had taken a trip to Florida to help my sister. Dying of cancer. I take pain meds since pennsylvania does not yet support canabus. But get this. There was an error in my shipment. My va in Pennsylvania said go to the local va and get a 3 day supply until mine arrived.
    I was told infatically by a very intimidating woman that “they don’t do that here”. I asked what they don’t do and I was told treat patients for pain at any time for any reason. And was dismissed being told no, I could not see a doctor.
    Went home in tears and agony, called my va who said they cannot deny my seeing a doctor. I went back. Got to see the who kept looking at me that I had just crawled out of a card board (no offense) and said they can’t believe more are not taking their lead. After all, all you people are just addicts and if not that, your selling them. Then gave me pills to help withdrawal. My doctor couldn’t believe it.
    I won’t even begin to say how my stage 4 cancer sister was treated and yelled at. We had to bring her to civilian facilities, where because of the inappropriate treatment from the va died a few weeks later.
    I DONT KNOw who to report these people to. The fight isn’t even canabus, it’s getting treated at all. I love my country. I’m ashamed of the low caliber doctors they have treating us.

    • Lew on February 22, 2014 at 7:37 am
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    Beware of veterans! I am 100% rated with a head injury that required a plate to be installed in my forehead. I have two bulging disc and one ruptured disk in my lower back. I had been using cannabis since my discharge in 1976 for symptoms with my head injury. The doctors at the VA medical clinic in Chatsworth, California, Los Angeles County have taken away my narcotic prescription rights because I have a medical prescription for my cannabis. I can no longer get Vicodin or anything that helps with my back pain. If you belong to the VA system, they will take away your narcotic prescription rights at the VA pharmacy if they find out you have the card for medical marijuana. Six years of service with one tour in Vietnam, and a doctor if the VA medical center can take away something as important as my pain medications! If anybody knows a way to battle this, please post it, so no other veterans are going through what I am.

    • Lew on February 22, 2014 at 7:37 am
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    Beware of veterans! I am 100% rated with a head injury that required a plate to be installed in my forehead. I have two bulging disc and one ruptured disk in my lower back. I had been using cannabis since my discharge in 1976 for symptoms with my head injury. The doctors at the VA medical clinic in Chatsworth, California, Los Angeles County have taken away my narcotic prescription rights because I have a medical prescription for my cannabis. I can no longer get Vicodin or anything that helps with my back pain. If you belong to the VA system, they will take away your narcotic prescription rights at the VA pharmacy if they find out you have the card for medical marijuana. Six years of service with one tour in Vietnam, and a doctor if the VA medical center can take away something as important as my pain medications! If anybody knows a way to battle this, please post it, so no other veterans are going through what I am.

    • Anonymous on February 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm
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    Let me start by saying that I have recently been medically retired from the Air Force at 50% for my Ruematoid Arthritis. I have been on many different medications “both pills and shots” in which none have fully been able to help with the problems associated with the RA. I guess my question would have to be that since I receive full medical and compensation for my family and I would I be able to get a medical marijuana card and not lose my benifits with the VA? I do live in a state that allows the use of medical marijuana also.

      • Anonymous on July 16, 2015 at 5:22 pm
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      Did you ever find out the answer to this? I need to know also. I’m a fellow vet. Thanks in advance!

    • garrett on December 19, 2013 at 3:39 pm
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    93 to 9-11 hurt my back in Germany and they been tryin to kill me ever since with pills,pills,pills….thank you lord for putting cannabis on your earth. I can’t wait till its legal for me.. I know for a fact that it would extend my life by years….. Its so aggravating that it is so clear that its 100% better than the pharma company shit that have over a hundred side affects!!! Its time that we vets and American citizens stand together and fight back against this federally controlled country that only care about the dollar,, and that’s slowly becoming nothing…please help me/us vets that just want to try and hang on to a somewhat way of life that helps us with the pain please.. Before we lose any more of our warriors that feel like the end is near.,If we would stand together/ numbers is what it comes down to!! Not money, but me just me i will donate what ever I can to help. If there is others out there that are ready to change there life for the better and get off those deadly pills that apparently are killing kids everyday, Lets do this…. Anyways I’m doing some more research and making sure I’m supportin the correct organizations that are going to help speed this up for me and my fellow vets. Thanks for reading…GB in NC

    • Random X Roads on November 12, 2013 at 11:03 pm
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    U.S.Vet 1968-71 and still waiting for my compassionate, palliative care from the VA. You have done your best to get me strung out on narcotics but I smoke “Hella weed” and have done my best to “man up” under the most uncomfortable conditions.

    I am embarrased to have served this country so that this government may continue to disrespect it’s citizens through it’s devisive policies concerning cannabis. A twenty year old who has never served has a ‘green card’ and is given permission to go into a state run dispensary to buy “legal, medicinal” cannabis, while a Veteran with his VA card and U.S. currency is not allowed to even purchase his medicine without paying off a state doctor after being denied by his federal primary care physician. What a joke.

    The joke is on the Veterans who have, in the past, and will still, in the future, laid their lives on the line for the safety and security of this great country that repays us by denying us our medical coverage that is offered to other members of the community.

    You people better make it right with the veterans before you start counting your profits. Analyze your own greed and find it in your hearts to become humane. And if you don’t get it, the Pacific ocean goes first and then the Atlantic. We are going to need to claim desert areas, reconstitute the soil, put in irrigation and began full scale propagation and maturation of high grade cannabis, a source from which we will still obtain fatty omega 3’s, 6’s, and 9”s when we are no longer able to obtain nutrition from the ocean.

    Get with the program folks.

    Mr. President—-Party On Party

    Party On

    • TJ Burglund on August 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm
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    My husband is qualified and uses it, he has since cut his intake of toxic prescription drugs in half and is doing very well.

    • douglas szklarski on July 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm
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    i am a 100% disable vets and cannabis gave me back my life . from the brink of deaf do to VA drugs thank god for cannabis i have my mind and spirit ,I am not disabled anymore pain have left the building my pain is fully under control .with no impairment . thank you jesus and god for making this plant for me.

      • Anonymous on July 16, 2015 at 4:17 pm
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      Did the VA take away your monthly benefits? I’m disabled with a rating and I don’t want to lose that monthly check by getting a medical marijuana card. It’s legal in my state but I don’t know if they take your benefits away. If you could help me out with an answer I’d greatly appreciate it.

      • Smokeing on October 1, 2016 at 9:53 pm
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      I am a veteran at 80% I smoke a lot, the day before I go to the va appointment , I take a nice thing called u.s.b , you get it at any head Shop it mask blood work and piss test, so they don’t know I smoke

    • Derek Cloar on July 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm
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    I have brought this up more than once to my VA Doctors and all I get is a run around. The Director who wrote this directive is no longer the Director. If anyone can find a COPY of the directive and email it to me I would appreciate it greatly.

      • garrett on December 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm
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      I think they train all the va doctors the same. Mine made the comment to me yesterday that I’ll quote ” you know there’s a rumor going around that there going to stop giving out narcotics or pain killers” . Now why would he tell me that. They have no idea. Every visit to the va I make there’s always some sort of comment made referring to prescription drugs. I’m tired of taken pills IM TIRED,IM TIRED!!! I’m supporting this movement until I die. If you know any sites that will help I appreciate it. GB in NC

        • Shin on April 1, 2015 at 12:03 am
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        Hey Garret,
        is it you? Did you serve in Army and was stationed in Ft Irwin?
        Remember me? It’s Shin.


    • George on July 25, 2013 at 11:27 pm
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    Whats the sence if the v.a. isnt going to distribute medical marijuana to vets that need it. The $$$ they give the vets to Live on isnt enought to pay the monthly bills. Let alone go out and buy a bag of marijuana.

      • Anonymous on August 29, 2016 at 9:02 pm
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    • micheal on July 25, 2013 at 7:34 pm
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    lol. i am a 100% disabled veteran i began marijuana in 2001 after 10 years on the Meds i was given by the VA and told some pain a soldier has to live with heres more morphine, after doing my best to kill my myself and not happening i then learned about marijuana. weaning myself off and dealing with the VA i was able to get my medical recomendation. changing my life for the better, i been ten years off the pills and lifes been diffrent. it is not the best but i can at least live. Have a quality of life and be. when on the pills it was hell. marijuana has been

      • HipCowboy420 on July 26, 2013 at 12:04 pm
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      Good for you Micheal it has helped me stay off other pain pills also I only use cannabis now.

        • garrett on December 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm
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        I’m a 50% disabled vet since 911 and dealing with chronic back pain. I just started researching a little about the cannibas. Unfortunately I live in a state where it is not legal, but have gotten the pleasure to experience a life changing new way of life that actually helped with my pain so much I cried like baby when I heard the medical movement. All these years,all these pills… I’m very tired all the time. I feel if I don’t get to a state where its legal I’m going to die!!! I’m going to do what I can to help this movement. Any sites that would help??? Thanks GB in NC

      • douglas szklarski on July 31, 2013 at 4:09 pm
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      me to the va try to murder me to with their pills that don’t work that why so many commit suicide no one can win on those pills no one the pills always win DEATH IS THE END . LIFE AND CANNABIS FOR ME.

    • Aaron McGlamery on July 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm
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    I’m a Veteran and I live in VA am I eligible for medical Cannibis? Please let me knw.

      • Anonymous on July 26, 2013 at 9:47 am
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      u r in Michigan…The Grand Peninsula awaits

      • Anonymous on July 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm
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      Only if it is LEGAL in your State.

      • George F. on January 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm
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      I live in CA and anyone and everyone with a problem can qualify for MMJ. Here’s how you do it.
      you must live in a MMJ state.
      You have decided that MMJ would help you.
      you decide on the illness you want to treat
      you go to a MMJ doctor and not a regular Dr.,
      regular doctors, they have no idea about MMJ but a MMJ Dr. is set-up to issue recommendations with a 24/7 verification phone number/website
      you don’t need the ID card unless you want a souviner only the stamped original recommendation is necessary
      You never tell a regular doctor you have a MMJ card and keep it secret.

      VA does not give MMJ recommendations period!
      VA will piss test you and take away your pain meds even with a card! but other doctors won’t and keep your mouth shut that you have a green card when discussing your medical treatment with caregivers.

        • Gwen on February 25, 2015 at 1:34 pm
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        Hi George – darn wish we had read this all before my husband opened his mouth to the VA here in Pa – First off – my husband is on oxi thru the VA due to severe injuries as a result of a 32 ft fall. This has been going on for a period of approx. 7-8 years now. We travel to S. Calif in the fall for approx. 6 weeks & last year he notified his PPC that he was going to Cali & would be smoking MJ – while out in Cali – he obtained a “green card” of course during this whole time for 7 years – he gets a monthly pee test to see if he’s on any other type of drugs. My husband has had in the past (during his Army days in Germany) was into the drug scene & let it be known. So the red flag goes up – right – soooo on his return from Cali in Nov – his pee test was positive – which is the norm – especially since he admitted to smoking during his Cali trip. – The next pee test – negative – the next one – positive – OK – BIG MOUTHS SINK BIG SHIPS – RIGHT – so now they have cut his meds back 1/2 in quanity & dosage – he’s up there with all the other Vets who have served our country and are basically getting screwed over by the SYSTEM – we pray for all our brothers & sisters out there who are suffering on a daily basis & pray for your body to be healed & that you regain your normal life. Good luck to all of you & please feel free to write to us – or make suggestions – we are open to any discussions – God Bless

    • Tim Reed on July 25, 2013 at 5:03 pm
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    I think this is a awesome step forward in freedom of Cannabis…and helping our Veterans! Keep up the move forward!!!

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