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VA Disability - When the initial decision finds no "nexus"
What is the "nexus" and why is it important?
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States That Allow Both A Medical Marijuana And Gun License
Ever wonder which are the states that allow both a medical marijuana and gun license? Us too. Take a look at what we found.
Got a medical marijuana card? You can’t own a gun Federal law prohibits selling firearms to marijuana users
Help Needed to Prevent Veterans’ Suicides
22 veterans commit suicide every day in U.S. Proposed state program addresses issue.
Drug Screening & Your VA - Have You Been "Drug Screened" By Your VA Clinic?
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has a little known (and apparently unenforced) policy that requires practitioners who are authorized to order laboratory tests to give you informed consent prior to a drug screen. VHA HANDBOOK 1004.01 Page 7; "(b) Information about certain tests must be considered “information that a patient in similar circumstances would reasonably
want to know” because these tests are particularly sensitive and may have consequences that the patient might reasonably want to avoid.
These tests include, but are not limited to, specific tests to identify illicit drug use...
In April 2017 VAWatchdog asked the Secretary to explain the VHA policy for screening veterans for illicit drug use. Read the reply as a web page here. Note that the VHA Handbook has been updated for distribution after we inquired.
Bottom line: You have a right to be fully informed before any drug screen. The ordering practitioner must document that you were given informed consent for a drug screen.
If you have been drug screened and not fully informed as to the reasons for the drug screen, you can have that removed from your medical record.
Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration Washington, DC 20420
VHA DIRECTIVE 1315 Transmittal Sheet December 8, 2017
ACCESS TO VHA CLINICAL PROGRAMS FOR VETERANS PARTICIPATING IN STATE-APPROVED MARIJUANA PROGRAMS
Guns 'n Weed - Can you own guns & smoke medical marijuana?
Probably not. At the time this is being written, it's becoming apparent that the current administration plans to vigorously police federal marijuana laws. This means that if you apply for a medical marijuana license, your data will be shared with NICS.
NICS is the FBI database for gun ownership/registration. Smoking weed is against federal law. Even if you have a state issued medical marijuana license, the FBI will have you entered into their database.
You get to choose, guns or medicine?
Do You Take Opoid Pain Medicine?
Have you had prescriptions for Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Meperidine, Morphine, Oxycodone or Tramadol to treat your pain? Have you been notified that your doctor isn't going to refill your prescription?
We are being inundated with emails and messages from you about how VA won't refill your pain medicine prescriptions. Most of you are very angry. Some of you have already started calling your Congressperson or a local VSO for help getting a refill on your Vicodin. Quite a few want me to tell you who you can complain to at VA to ensure that your refills of narcotics continue uninterrupted, just like always. You all blame this on the damned VA.
The facts aren't all that elusive. This is happening to you because the law has changed. The VA didn't change the law, the push for the change happened at the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The DEA decided the potential for abuse and risks required tighter restrictions than in the past. This affects every doctor across America, not only VA doctors. When you tell me that your civilian doctor always refills your narcotic prescriptions, that lets us know you haven't been to a civilian doctor lately. The DEA controls their license to prescribe. If the doctor doesn't follow the new rules, he or she may quickly lose that privilege. Many doctors have decided they will no longer write any narcotic prescriptions. The narcotics prescriptions of the future will be written mostly by surgeons for short term treatment of pain caused by operative procedures.
Chronic and long term pain relief won't generally be treated with narcotics.
One problem you're confronting is that the more you ask for your narcotic prescription to be refilled, the more you appear to fit the profile of "drug seeking behavior". Once you display anger because you ran out of Vicodin, you get that label and you're even more unlikely to get any sympathy. Our advice? Talk with your primary care doctor. Be open about it if you may be dependent on narcotics and you need some help to leave them behind. Don't get angry.
The VA isn't putting up with your anger these days. Before you raise your voice, look around. The VA police are serious in their work and will have you on the ground before you can say much.
If you want to complain, give the DEA a call. Tell them that you have the right to get narcotics free from VA. Get really pissed with the agent you speak to.
They'll be happy to hear from you.
The Pain Contract
Your VA and many civilian providers today will insist that you sign a "Pain Contract" if you are on any sort of pain medicines for more than a very brief period.
The reasoning behind this is controversial. There is a common misconception that veterans who receive any sort of pain medicine are likely to resell it at a very high profit. Like most of the rumors that are published about the American "War On Drugs" there is little truth to this.
The majority of veterans who receive pain medicines from VA are just like you and they have no reason to want to sell their medicines. The bulletins would have you believe that every pill is worth an enormously inflated price and that vets can get rich by selling their medicines.
The result of all this is that you are likely to be tested to ensure that you're taking your medicines. Once you sign the pain contract you give VA the authority to test you at any time. They are not required to tell you that you're being tested for drugs.
If you aren't taking your drugs at the time of the test, your provider may not extend any more refills.
If other drugs (such as marijuana) are seen during the test, you may or may not be counseled. That depends on the individual provider.
Much of the testing in both civilian and VA and military settings is done with a standardized 4 drug detection kit. The test of your urine would show the presence of narcotics (Vicodin, Oxycontin, morphine, etc.). marijuana, cocaine (or crack) and amphetamines. In some tests benzodiazepines (Valium and similar) may be detected.
Therefore, if you are tested to ensure that you are taking your prescribed medication and you have been smoking marijuana, you'll likely get a call from your doctor. Some VA doctors won't tolerate your marijuana use at all. Others don't pay it any attention.
The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn't care much about you smoking marijuana. You won't lose disability benefits if you're smoking marijuana.
The only people who are concerned are in the health care arena of the VA...your doctors. Most enlightened physicians recognize that marijuana has some medicinal benefit and that there is no evidence of harmful side effects other than the obvious...inhaling hot smoke.
Most agree that the single most devastating side effect of recreational marijuana use is that it remains illegal and you may be arrested for it.
Having said that, your doctor may feel differently. If your doctor makes a decision that you shouldn't be smoking, he or she has the right to ask you to stop. Few people will try to help you with that sort of problem as the doctor is the clinical authority and makes those decisions.
Most mental health providers will ask that you refrain from all recreational substance use. If you are diagnosed with any mental health problems, your doctor will want your head to be as clear as possible during treatment. You should comply.
Doctors who treat your chronic pain with narcotics may also tell you to lay off the recreational marijuana. They want to be able to judge the effects of the treatments they offer you without any other substances interfering.
Orthopedic doctors today are often refusing such surgery as hip and knee replacement unless the patient gives up tobacco and marijuana. They believe that smoking anything will displace vital oxygen and interfere with the critical healing process.
Doctors who do transplants like kidneys or other organs also frequently tell the patient to quit smoking marijuana. This is as much a matter of discipline as anything else. They know that if you refuse to follow their orders, you may not do as well with your transplant and they can offer the organ to another patient who will be more compliant.
Although society is undergoing some positive changes in how we view recreational substance use, marijuana remains an illegal drug. Federal laws are strict and in some states, even a small amount can earn you jail time. You do not have any "rights" to smoke pot. If you're smart, and you want to keep your health care provider happy, you'll pay close attention to what the provider tells you.