I’ve found plenty of conflicts but never profound wisdom or a sense of efficient and effective coherence when it comes to government exercising either logic or common sense.
The latest example is a U.S. Veterans Administration policy that allows for its medical personnel to counsel patients (often post-traumatic stress disorder-afflicted) about the benefits and pitfalls of using medical marijuana without being able to prescribe that form of assistance to help them if needed.
And, whether individually we support the notion of legalized medical marijuana in Arkansas (which an election said we do), it can, and does, often effectively treat medical problems ranging from physical to psychological.
But the U.S. government says cannabis is a illegal controlled drug and it will neither prescribe nor pay for it. The law shall not be mocked, you see, well, federally anyway.
I can envision this scenario: “Hello, Mr. Jones, have a seat and I’ll counsel you on how medical marijuana, which is now legal here in Arkansas, could perhaps ease your symptoms and pains. Of course if I suggest it as a treatment, there’s nothing I can do to prescribe it for you. We sure can have us a good talk, though.
“You’re on your own out there since using marijuana remains a federal crime and the government doesn’t condone, or pay for it. Thanks for serving. Sorry and good luck. Next patient!”
That’s only one preposterous problem our vets face today when states and the U.S. government these veterans once served as soldiers aren’t reading from the same book, much less on the same page.
To me, not being in legalistic sync on this issue is inexcusable. Our veterans are one group who might benefit most from the proven relief marijuana issued and controlled in a medical setting can provide.
A news account the other day by reporter Hunter Field said the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, the state’s largest branch of the federal VA health administration, doesn’t anticipate losing patients because medical marijuana is unavailable.
“For [our facilities], nothing will change other than some treatment plans may be modified by our clinicians to consider the patient’s use of medical marijuana,” Field quoted Chris Durney, a spokesman for the hospital system, as saying.
“Our providers are encouraged to maintain a positive provider-patient relationship with the ability to talk with veterans about how using medical marijuana may adversely affect any VA-specific treatment plan.”
And there, my friend, you have a classic example of bureaucratic rhetoric.
I prefer to side with the American Legion and puredee common sense. Fields writes that the country’s largest veterans service organization “adopted a resolution [last] year urging the federal government to free VA physicians to recommend medical marijuana in states where it’s legal. Veterans who support the availability of medical marijuana herald cannabis as an alternative to addictive opioids, which VA hospitals, including those in Arkansas, have worked to reduce.”
Field’s story explained that under Arkansas’ medical marijuana system, qualifying patients will receive registration cards signifying they can legally purchase the drug (if they can find a private doctor and can afford it).
Simply applying for a card costs $50, renewable annually, and that fee is subject to change. (Do they ever go down?)
Then veterans would have to purchase the drug out of pocket, which Krawitz said could cost an average user somewhere between $450 and $1,000 monthly, depending on the quality of cannabis. Really? On a VA benefits check?
But wait, there’s more! Vets also would incur the expense of locating a doctor outside the VA and establish a “physician-patient relationship” required before a VA recommendation for medical marijuana can even be made, say state regulations.
There have been several efforts in Congress in recent years to lift bans on VA doctors related to medical marijuana, and the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate passed a measure as part of their respective VA appropriations bills. However, the measure was moved to a conference panel to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Bills to reconcile the mess have been introduced in the House and Senate. That legislation would authorize VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states like ours. Each was referred to committees, the news account says.
Looky here, people. What say we, as a nation, get these needless discrepancies and obstacles quickly erased on behalf of those in need who have laid their lives on the line to serve us?
Don’t forget to regularly visit the USA Today website at tinyurl.com/ARattraction in the coming days to vote every 24 hours for our precious Buffalo National River as the state’s biggest tourism attraction because, well, it is and has been.
And, of course, we all want to remind the nation and all who come to enjoy her uniquely magnificent beauty.
A Washington Times story the other day said the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has expanded its 2016 election investigation from supposed Russian interference in our election “to an end-game that focuses on federal law enforcement and how it conducted a drive to snare President Trump and his people.” The story said GOP Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California is accusing the Justice Department and the FBI of misleading him in “a pattern of behavior that can no longer be tolerated.”
He alleges the Justice Department claimed it possessed no documents related to the much-publicized Trump dossier, then under pressure produced numerous such papers.
It gives me severe gas pains to realize that with so many honorable men and women serving our FBI and Justice Department, it takes but a handful at the top drawn into favoring one political party for the entire agency to unjustly reap the negative publicity. And, pray tell, valued readers, who investigates (and or prosecutes) the Justice Department if it cannot be relied upon for objective law enforcement? Itself?
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at email@example.com.