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Illinois VA Hospital Working With MMJ Dispensary, But How?

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Economics

Illinois VA Hospital Working With MMJ Dispensary, But How?

Although federal law is supposed to prohibit Veterans being treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs from participating in state medical marijuana programs, one Illinois dispensary claims it has teamed up with their neighborhood VA clinic in an effort to raise money for Vets who have been disabled as a result of amputation.

Throughout the entire month of May, Midwest Compassion Center in Romeoville says it will donate 10 percent of its net proceeds to amputee veterans currently undergoing treatment at Hines VA Hospital. The goal of this outreach program, according to co-owner Nicole van Rensburg, is to provide some financial assistance to this specific group of veterans because, “many of them are registered as medical cannabis patients.”

“Veterans are a group that pull on my heartstrings quite strongly,” Rensburg told Extract. “Amputated limbs is on the list of qualifying conditions in Illinois, so we chose to earmark that.”

However, the dispensary’s statement is somewhat confusing considering that the Department of Veterans Affairs currently maintains a policy that prohibits doctors employed with the VA from recommending or even discussing medical marijuana with their patients. In some cases, those veterans who have gone against the grain of the department’s anti-pot politics — using medical marijuana without VA consent — have been reprimanded, some of them even stripped of their right to medical treatment, including the loss of prescription painkillers privileges.

That’s because in the eyes of Uncle Sam, Veterans are free to use medical marijuana, as long as they no longer wish to continue receiving complimentary care from a doctor in the employ of the United States government. So, while veterans with amputated limbs may qualify to use medical marijuana in Illinois, they would need to secure a medical marijuana certification from a doctor not affiliated with the VA because federal law prohibits this department from facilitating the use of cannabis treatment.

Several attempts have been made over the past year to get the VA to relax its policies on medical marijuana. In January, twenty-one members of both the House and Senate signed a letter addressed to VA Secretary Robert McDonald advising the department to reconsider its current directive and put a new policy into place that allows vets to use medical marijuana without incurring penalties. Still, the VA’s old policy remains intact because no replacement was established at the time of its renewal period. This means that the type of partnership purportedly underway between Midwest Compassion and Hines VA Hospital could technically be a violation of federal law.

Strangely, Rensburg says 15-to-20 percent of the patients who purchase medical marijuana from Midwest Compassion Center are veterans – suggesting that regardless of federal law, veterans are finding ways to utilize their state’s medical marijuana programs without running into major issues with Uncle Sam. It also could indicate that some local VA clinics across the country may have gone rogue and are operating under less restrictive guidelines than VA headquarters in Washington D.C.

“We’re looking to form closer ties with that group in the future,” Rensburgh said.

As of right now, it remains unclear exactly how the Hines VA Hospital is able to work with a medical marijuana dispensary without catching heat from the higher ups. A message sent to the clinic asking for clarification did not bring about an immediate response.

Do America’s veterans deserve the right to treat themselves with medical marijuana? Tell us what you think.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. bettie andrews

    July 17, 2016 at 3:34 am

    Nice work! Thanks for the sharing, I also found a useful service for forms filling. You’ll forget about paperwork when you try PDFfiller. Physician certification and illinois form can be filled out in 5-10 mins here https://goo.gl/LMdRve.

  2. gary reynolds sr.

    May 24, 2016 at 11:17 am

    I am a vn vet , double leg amputee, in Memphis ,the va here has just revoked my pain meds ,and I think myother meds for my heart etc, because they are not responding to my re-order request . because they found trace of marj.in my system…the marj. really helps me with the pain and the phanom pains..i am no druggie, I only take what helps me..the va had me on meds to help me with the pains and nerve damage , but it caused me to have severe nightmares….so I went to marj in replaceing the drug..and have controlled my pain and legs or nubs from jumping..i hope the va head people chane things to help us…I know for a fact the doctors want to help and they know it helps us live pain free.why are we always last to get help? I was a sargent in marinesvietnam , was always taught to take care of my men at all cost,,,,what happened after discharge is the queston. and yet everyone out-side the vets themselves want to know why we are depressed…its not the war that bothers me ,hell I vollenteerd , no its what happened when I got home , anyway ,you all that are fighting for us now , thank you , and forward……march!

  3. BOB COMPTON

    May 10, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    IT’S ALL BULLSHIT LEGALIZE IT.

  4. Bob

    May 10, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Illinois created a carve out for VA patients that allows them to apply for registration with the Illinois Department of Public Health without a certifying doctor. Instead, they send their medical records directly to IDPH for review. It’s a bandaid for the problem, but it’s a start.

  5. Josh

    May 10, 2016 at 9:59 am

    “The Veterans Health Directive offers guidance on the use and access to medical cannabis for veteran patients in the 14 states with medical cannabis programs. Although VA doctors still may not recommend cannabis for treatment (because it remains a Schedule 1 narcotic under federal law), patients under VA care will be able to receive other doctors’ recommendations for cannabis and continue with their VA healthcare. Previously, patients in medical cannabis states could have been refused pain medications if they were using cannabis for therapeutic purposes with the recommendation of a non-VA doctor.” http://www.illinoiscannabispatients.org/cms/?p=250

    Veterans receiving care at a U.S. Department Veterans Affairs facility do not need to provide a physician written certification, but must provide copies of the following two forms: VA Form 10-5345 and DD214.

    Please get your research done before writing the article…..

  6. Victoria

    May 10, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Illinois medical cannabis law has built in provisions for veterans to access medical cannabis. Basically since VA doctors cannot certify patients, veterans who qualify for the program and are receiving treatment at the VA may submit applicable sections of their medical records to the Illinois Department of Public Health in lieu of a physician certification

    77 Ill. Adm. Code 946.240 Persons Receiving Medical Care at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Facilities

    a) A qualifying patient who is a veteran who has received treatment at a VA hospital is deemed to have a bona-fide physician-patient relationship with a VA physician if the patient has been seen for his or her debilitating condition at the VA hospital in accordance with VA hospital protocols. (Section 60 of the Act)

    b) A veteran receiving care for a debilitating condition at a VA hospital shall not be required to submit a written certification from a physician.

    c) A veteran receiving care for a debilitating condition at a VA hospital shall register with the Department on the Registry Identification Card application (see Section 946.200) and shall comply with all other requirements specified in this Part.

    d) To qualify for a patient registry identification card, a qualifying patient who is a veteran and receiving medical care and treatment at a VA hospital shall:
    1) Be a resident of the State of Illinois, as defined in Section 946.200(c), at the time of application and remain a resident during participation in the
    program;
    2) Have a qualifying medical condition;
    3) Provide a copy of his or her official hospital medical records requested
    from the VA using VA Form 10-5345;
    4) Provide a copy of his or her DD214 or equivalent certified document
    indicating character and dates of service;
    5) Complete the fingerprint-based background check and not have been
    convicted of an excluded offense; and
    6) Be at least 18 years of age.

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