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Since 2005 This Is The Site VA Reads

When They Want To Learn What They've Been Doing​

Veterans Law Attorney

Can medical marijuana users have firearms? Police say no

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

Lawsuit: SC VA hospital flubs urine sample; tells sick man he’s cocaine addict

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?

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.
Read all of this as a full web page.​

Veterans Question and Answer

Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration Washington, DC 20420
VHA DIRECTIVE 1315 Transmittal Sheet December 8, 2017

Jim Strickland is a nationally known

advocate for veterans and a member of the     

Stateside Legal Advisory Board.

Guns 'n Weed - Can you own guns & smoke medical marijuana?

January 2018

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?

Veterans Law Attorney

Do You Take Opoid Pain Medicine?
​Listen up!

​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. 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.

Pain contracts threaten the doctor-patient relationship 
Pain contracts can undermine patient trust  
The VHA Directive on Pain Management

Drug Tests 

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.

Marijuana Use and the Department of Veterans Affairs