Our vets go through a lot to serve our country, and many times they have trouble getting the care they deserve when they get home. At Affordable Marijuana License, we want to do everything we can to help our vets. We make it easy to apply & schedule online & Dr. Pulido will do everything within his power to help you qualify and get medical marijuana so you can get relief for your condition. And even though we’re the most affordable medical marijuana doctor in the state, we offer a 10% discount to veterans.
What Veterans Should Know About Medical Marijuana
Despite the federal cannabis prohibition, regulations are continuously evolving. To gain more clarity on the rules for veterans surrounding marijuana use, the US Department of Veterans Affairs has outlined some guidelines below.
As of November 2021, the regulations stand as follows:
-Veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of marijuana use.
-Veterans are encouraged to discuss marijuana use with their VA providers.
-VA health care providers will record marijuana use in the Veteran’s VA medical record in order to have the information available in treatment planning. As with all clinical information, this is part of the confidential medical record and protected under patient privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.
-VA clinicians may not recommend medical marijuana.
-VA clinicians may only prescribe medications that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical use. At present most products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or other cannabinoids are not approved for this purpose by the FDA.
-VA clinicians may not complete paperwork/forms required for Veteran patients to participate in state-approved marijuana programs.
-VA pharmacies may not fill prescriptions for medical marijuana.
-VA will not pay for medical marijuana prescriptions from any source.
-VA scientists may conduct research on marijuana benefits and risks, and potential for abuse, under regulatory approval.
-The use or possession of marijuana is prohibited at all VA medical centers, locations and grounds. When you are on VA grounds it is federal law that is in force, not the laws of the state.
-Veterans who are VA employees are subject to drug testing under the terms of employment.
-Although Veterans Affairs will not assist with the medical marijuana application process, veterans have the freedom to seek treatment through their state’s MMJ program if desired.
A recent government funded-analysis found that U.S. Army recruits “with a history of marijuana were just as likely as other recruits to complete their first term and make sergeant, and they were less likely to leave the Army for health or performance reasons.” (Adlin, 2021). We hope that these positive findings will lead to eventual adjustments allowing for veterans to access alternative medicine in the near future.
How Veterans Can Get A Medical Marijuana Card In Florida
The first step is to make an appointment at a clinic near you. Then one of our state-certified physicians will evaluate you to determine if you qualify for medical marijuana. A list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana eligibility in Florida can be found here.
We offer a 10% discount for Florida-based veterans off of medical marijuana evaluation appointments. We value our veterans, and offer this discount all throughout the year. Please note, you will need to provide a military ID or DD214 at your appointment.
Florida also has a significant population of veterans, making it the nation’s third largest veteran population while having the second highest number of military retirees in the United States.
1,594,216 veterans reside in Florida
Florida’s military & defense industry supports over 914,227 jobs
202,840 military retirees live in Florida
Florida boasts 65,000+ active duty service members & families
70 veterans have been inducted into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame
23 Medal of Honor recipients are from Florida
In Florida’s 2021 Military Friendly Guide, there are a number of benefits listed for active duty, National Guard, Reserve, Service members, Veterans, Retirees, and Families.
Some Laws & Benefits in the Sunshine State include:
25% discount on annual entrance passes to Florida State Parks for active duty and honorably discharged veterans of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard, or reserve units of the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard
Free lifetime military entrance passes to Florida State Parks for honorably discharged United States veterans who have service-connected disabilities
Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) shall accept a military personnel identification card as proof of a social security card number during the application process to acquire a driver license or identification card
The Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program offers military service personnel and veterans who are purchasing a primary residence and meet income and purchase price limits, a 30-year, fixed-rate first mortgage loan at a low rate and with several down payment assistance options
Certain military and family members receive in-state tuition rates for Florida colleges and universities. As of July 1, 2019, the determination of resident status for tuition purposes is established at the time of acceptance (rather than enrollment) for the active duty member, their spouses, dependent children, and active drilling members of the Florida National Guard.
What is the VA’s Position of Medical Marijuana?
Because the VA is a federal agency it adheres to marijuana’s complete illegality as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. The VA position on medical marijuana is documented in VHA Directive 1315. Although VHA Directive 1315 states that veterans must not be denied VA benefits solely due to participation in a state medical marijuana program, marijuana use must be entered into the patient’s electronic medical records. The VA cannot recommend or prescribe medical marijuana under any circumstances.
The VA estimates roughly 15% of Vietnam veterans currently suffer from PTSD, but as many as 30% have experienced PTSD at some point in their lives. About 12% of Desert Storm veterans experience PTSD, and between 11% to 20% of War on Terror (Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom) veterans suffer from the disorder.[iv] By comparison, only about 3.5% of the general adult population suffers from PTSD. Combat stress is a common cause of PTSD, although some veterans suffer as the result of sexual assault while serving in uniform. Sexual assault in the military occurs at a higher rate than the general population.
PTSD was formerly known as “shell shock” or “combat fatigue” during the mid-twentieth century. Many patients with PTSD report having flashbacks or intrusive thoughts which result in involuntarily re-living past traumatic events. Other symptoms include; avoiding reminders, negative thoughts or feelings, and arousal and reactive symptoms.[v] The most common treatments for PTSD are cognitive behavioral therapy or selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) including Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac.[vi] SSRIs have side effects including insomnia, drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, nervousness, agitation, dry mouth, headache, blurred vision, and sexual problems.[vii]
Veterans suffer from mental illness and suicide at a rate 22% greater than the general population. On average 20 veterans commit suicide every day and 6 of these will have recently used VHA services.
The Opiod Epidemic
The opiod epidemic has affected millions and is still lacking a clear solution. One tool in the fight against opioid addiction is medical marijuana, which has been shown to be effective in reducing opioid use and side effects.
Are there efforts underway to legalize medical cannabis for veterans within VA?
Veterans are increasingly underrepresented in the legislative decision-making progress. The percentage of veterans serving in Congress declined from 81% in 1975 down to approximately 20% today. Still, some efforts to support veterans are moving forward.
VA scientists are able to conduct research on marijuana benefits and risks, and potential for abuse, under regulatory approval. Any questions related to research can be addressed to VHABLRD-CSRD@va.gov.
H.R. 5520, the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018, would promote scientific and medical research into the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis usage for veterans diagnosed with PTSD, TBIs, chronic pain and other illnesses and injuries by clarifying that research into medicinal cannabis is well within the authority of the VA.
Additionally, S. 3409, the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would empower VA physicians to issue medical cannabis recommendations in accordance with the laws of states where it’s legal. This legislation would also require VA to conduct studies on “the effects of medical marijuana on veterans in pain” and “the relationship between treatment programs involving medical marijuana that are approved by States, the access of veterans to such programs, and a reduction in opioid abuse among veterans.”
Can veterans get medical marijuana through the VA?
While the VA cannot deny veterans access to health care or compensation benefits due to medical marijuana use, its providers are prohibited, by law, to recommend or prescribe cannabis as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still classifies it as Schedule 1 drug. VA providers may only prescribe medications approved by the FDA.
VA policy indicates participation in state marijuana programs does not affect eligibility for VA care and services, and VA providers are able to discuss cannabis use with veteran patients and adjust care and treatment plans as needed. Veterans are encouraged to discuss medical marijuana use with their VA providers as part of their confidential medical record.
The VA will not pay for medical marijuana prescriptions from any source, nor will VA providers complete paperwork or forms required for a veteran to participate in a state-approved marijuana program.
Additionally, the use or possession of marijuana is prohibited at all VA medical centers, locations and grounds—even in states in which marijuana use is legal.
However, anecdotal feedback from veterans shows that VA’s directives and actual patient experiences sometimes differ in cases where a prescribed medical marijuana user walks into a federal (VA) facility.
What resources are available to learn more?