Despite the fact that many states are legalizing cannabis, decriminalizing cannabis or using it for medical purposes, and the fact that many veterans use medical cannabis, those who work in Veterans Affairs (VA) can still be fired for using cannabis, as confirmed by a recent memo.
According to Military Times, the memo was characterized as a “self-explanatory, simple reminder” by VA leadership. It explains that anyone who works for the VA must “refrain from using illegal drugs on and off duty,” including cannabis.
The message continued to elaborate on the organization’s strict rules. “There is no legitimate medical explanation for a marijuana positive test result, other than a verified prescription of certain FDA-approved drugs,” it read. “A prescription for medical marijuana is not an acceptable medical explanation for a positive drug test. Marijuana is illegal under federal law. Even though some states have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes, marijuana, marijuana extracts, and tetrahydrocannabinol are illegal for human use under federal law.
Currently, when it comes to veterans, the official position of the VA is that if patients are using cannabis medically, they need to disclose this information to the organization so that medical professionals have a full picture of what they’re consuming. However, the same option isn’t available to those who work in the VA.
A recent study from 2019 verified that veterans now consume more cannabis than prescription drugs. “This study confirms what we’ve been seeing on the ground for years now—coming up on a decade—which is that veterans are not only finding benefits from using cannabis medicinally, but are also using it to replace pharmaceutical drugs that they are being given by the V.A. that they find harmful or more dangerous,” said the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance VP, Seth Smith. Even under the current administration, veterans have a federal right to consume cannabis.