from CBS Reno, by Andi Guevara
Marijuana is now legal in Nevada, and a growing list of dispensaries and clinics are offering free services to veterans. We’ve heard from many of our viewers, concerned about losing their Veteran’s benefits for using something not approved by the federal government.
“I’ve had several veterans that have approached me and said it saved their life,” says Shane Whitecloud, the outreach specialist at the Veterans Resource Center of America in Reno. He says he hears from vets every day who are worried about losing their benefits. That won’t happen, says Dr Amy Sanguinetti, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Reno VA;
“It’s not a federally recognized medication, but we do not deny vets and any care if they are using marijuana” Patients who test positive for marijuana can be denied pain treatment medications – such as opioids. This, specialists say, is because of possible interactions between the drugs. “…maybe impaired cognition or thinking, slowing of psycho-motor functions, your ability to respond quickly, let’s say driving” says Amy Pullen, the Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at the Reno VA.
Some vets say the synthetic drugs they’ve been prescribed have far worse side effects. “I was on very heavy prescription drugs for migraines that would take me out of work for days on end,” says US Army Veteran Corey Blatchford. Blatchford had medically retired from the military, then had a federal job, so he never signed up for a medical marijuana card. However, Whitecloud, a vet himself, did try marijuana. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2012. “I’ve been using it for eight months now and three weeks ago, my doctor said I was in remission.”
Blatchford wishes research could be approved at the federal level, “We have so many veterans using medical marijuana, why are we not doing the testing to see how it works and how it reacts?” Until that happens, the medical specialists at the VA say they don’t want patients to feel stigmatized – they want patients to be honest.
“What are the potential risks, what are the potential benefits, what are you experiencing personally, is just the start of open communication,” encourages Pullen.