Veterans nursing homes cannot give patients medical marijuana

1 year 4 months 1 week ago Tuesday, January 29 2019 Jan 29, 2019 Tuesday, January 29, 2019 2:32:00 PM CST January 29, 2019 in News
By: Sydney Kalich, KOMU 8 Reporter
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MEXICO - Residents of veterans nursing homes in Missouri will not be allowed to use medical marijuana, a move one veteran called "heartbreaking".

"If I knew my choice was medical cannabis or a nursing home," veteran Joshua Lee said. "I would find some way to tough it out at home." 

The nursing homes are funded by the federal government, which still considers marijuana an illegal drug. In this case, the federal law would take precedence over state law. Lee said this decision made him rethink his future.

"As much as we can legalize it on a state level, until we get some action on the federal, its still off the table for some of our veterans," Lee said.  

Alice Mangan, a veteran and a nurse, said she understands the decision, but it is a "disappointment" to her. 

"I understand Missouri gets federal funding for these things," Mangan said. "But for some people, they think letting them have marijuana is immoral, which is not really based in science. 

The announcement came Monday from the Missouri Veterans Commission, according to the Associated Press. It could affect more than 1,350 residents throughout the seven veterans nursing homes in Missouri.

Dan Viets of New Approach Missouri, which was the primary backer of the amendment legalizing medical marijuana in the state, said this move is not a surprising one. The measure specifically called for money raised by medical marijuana sales go to support veterans.

"It has been the policy of veterans hospitals to not facilitate the use of medical marijuana by veterans for a long time," Viets said. "In fact they prohibit their doctors from even recommending medical marijuana for veterans. 

Viets said one solution would be to allow VA doctors to qualify patients for medical marijuana. 

“Its a tragedy really, that veterans who have served their country are deprived of access to the same medicine that everyone else has to now," he said.

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