Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Who are we?

Veterans Health Solutions is a non-profit public benefit corporation dedicated to educating and advocating for access to the alternative and holistic use of hemp for our veteran population.

What do we do?

We formed alliances with like-minded organizations and instruct the community about the benefits and medicinal use of hemp by holding workshops and presentations from a grass roots level.

Why was Veteran Health Solutions started?

VHS was created in Afghanistan by a public servant and disabled veteran who wanted to ensure that all veterans had an organization that could be their sounding board to help support their medical use of hemp as an alternative to combat the opioid crisis plaguing the veteran community.

Does the VA support the use of medical cannabis?

Veterans can now get medical marijuana in any state that has a medical marijuana program that allows the use of therapeutic cannabis. Currently, the Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors are not allowed to prescribe or recommend the use of medical marijuana to patients. Under the new directive VHA 1315 urges government doctors to “discuss with the Veteran marijuana use, due to its clinical relevance to patient care, and discuss marijuana use with any Veterans requesting information about marijuana.

In addition to the “prohibition on recommending, making referrals to or completing forms and registering Veterans for participation in State-approved marijuana programs,” the new V.A. directive continues a policy that the government won’t pay for veterans’ medical cannabis.

It also specifies that the directive only prohibits use of medical marijuana by V.A. employees, not patients who don’t work for the department.

“Veterans must not be denied VHA services solely because they are participating in State-approved marijuana programs,” it says.

Those patients just have to get their cannabis recommendations from physicians outside the V.A., which can be costly and confusing for some veterans.

The new policy also seems to further encourage government doctors to more closely track and record information about veterans’ use of medical marijuana.

“Clinical staff may discuss with Veterans relevant clinical information regarding marijuana and when this is discussed it must be documented in the Veteran’s medical record,” it says. “Providers need to make decisions to modify treatment plans based on marijuana use on a case-by-case basis, such decisions need to be made in partnership with the Veteran and must be based on concerns regarding Veteran health and safety.”

The V.A.’s previous medical cannabis policy, enacted in 2011, technically expired on January 31, 2016, but remained in place until the enactment of the new directive, effective this month. The new policy is set to expire at the end of 2022.

Now that Prop 64 has been voted on and passed, how will that affect medical access for veterans? 

Proposition 64 is a consensus measure on recognized best practices to control, regulate and tax responsible adult use, sale and cultivation of marijuana in California.

Adults aged 21+ will be allowed to possess marijuana, and grow small amounts at home for personal use. Sale of marijuana will be legal and highly regulated to protect consumers and kids.

Prop 64 has no effect on veterans other than they can now go to dispensaries to gain access with their driver’s license to prove they are over 21. VHS  recommends all veterans participate in the medical marijuana program for added protection via the Veterans Health Administration directive for access to clinical programs for veterans participating in state-approved marijuana programs.

Proposition 64, The Adult Use Marijuana Act, permits adults who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to legally grow (up to six plants, including all of the harvest from those plants) and to possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrates) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. (Medical cannabis patients are not subject to these limits.) The measure prohibits localities from taking actions to infringe upon adults’ ability to possess and cultivate cannabis for non-commercial purposes. The initiative does not “repeal, affect, restrict, or preempt … laws pertaining to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.” Several other marijuana-related activities not legalized by the measure are reduced from felonies to misdemeanors. The law also provides for resentencing consideration for those found guilty of prior marijuana convictions.

The revised marijuana penalties took effect on November 9, 2016. Retail sales of marijuana by state-licensed establishments are scheduled to begin under the law on January 1, 2018. On-site consumption is permitted under the law in establishments licensed for such activity. Large-scale corporate players are restricted from becoming involved until 2023.

Is cannabis addictive?

When it comes to cannabis addiction, generally speaking, there are two trains of thought.

First, many claim that the herb is not physically addictive. This means that cannabis consumers don’t go through the shaking, vomiting, and extreme withdrawal symptoms associated with harder substances like heroin.

The second definition stems from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM is the ultimate ruling guide for psychiatrists. It defines all psychiatric disorders recognized by the U.S. healthcare system.

In order to be diagnosed with “cannabis use disorder”, two of the following 11 conditions must be met in the past year:

  • Cannabis is taken in larger and larger amounts, for longer than intended

  • There is persistent desire or uncontrollable efforts to decrease cannabis use

  • A great deal of time spent in activities necessary to obtain cannabis, use cannabis or recover from its effects

  • Craving or a strong desire or urge to use cannabis

  • Recurrent cannabis use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home

  • Continued cannabis use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of cannabis

  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of cannabis use

  • Recurrent cannabis use in situations in which it is physically hazardous

  • Cannabis use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by cannabis

  • Tolerance, as defined by either a need for markedly increased cannabis to achieve intoxication or desired effect or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance

  • Withdrawal, as manifested by either the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for cannabis or cannabis is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

Does using cannabis lead to harder drug use?

Use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are likely to come before use of other drugs. Animal studies have shown that early exposure to addictive substances, including THC, may change how the brain responds to other drugs. For example, when rodents are repeatedly exposed to THC when they’re young, they later show an enhanced response to other addictive substances—such as morphine or nicotine—in the areas of the brain that control reward, and they’re more likely to show addiction-like behaviors.

Although these findings support the idea of marijuana as a “gateway drug,” the majority of people who use marijuana don’t go on to use other “harder” drugs. It’s also important to note that other factors besides biological mechanisms, such as a person’s social environment, are also critical in a person’s risk for drug use and addiction.

What are the different strains of cannabis?

There are three distinct types of cannabis plants that are grown for their psychoactive content. These are Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis ruderalis. The fourth classification is given to what is now referred to as Hemp, this is the name given to non-psychoactive cannabis plants that are grown commercially for seeds, oil, and fiber. These plants typically contain around 3% THC content, however, hemp strains have been artificially bred to contain very little cannabinoid content to satisfy the prohibition lobby. In reality, if farmers could grow regular cannabis they would be able to utilize more of the plant and earn extra income from the cannabinoids which could be used as medicine. This would effectively cripple the black market in cannabis as it would be so readily available.

 Is hemp oil the same as cannabis oil?

No hemp oil is very beneficial and should be used daily by anyone suffering from illness but it does not contain the cannabinoids found in cannabis oils that are required to combat cancer and other serious conditions.

Does cannabis smoking damage brain cells?

There is some evidence from a study carried out in New Zealand that individuals who smoke cannabis whilst in their teenage years have a lower IQ score in adult life than others who have never used the plant, this suggests that it is not beneficial to use cannabis whilst the brain is still developing, however, a North American study conducted by think tank Source Watch found a correlation between the smoking of certain sativa strains of cannabis and academic achievement. Use of these sativa strains led to the stimulation of chords within cerebellum which otherwise remain dead throughout daily activity.

Which medical conditions can cannabis treat?

A: Alcohol and opiate abuse, Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Anorexia nervosa, Loss of appetite,Asthma, Arthritis (rheumatoid or osteoporosis), Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Atherosclerosis (also known as ASVD), Autism, Bipolar disorder, Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, Depression, Diabetes mellitus, Emphysema, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia (FM or FMS), Glaucoma, Glioma, Hepatitis C, Herpes, High blood pressure, HIV, Huntington’s disease, Incontinence, Insomnia, Leukemia, MRSA, Migraines, Multiple sclerosis, Nausea and vomiting, Osteoporosis, Pain relief (analgesia), Parkinson’s syndrome, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Pregnancy, Pruritus, Psoriasis, Sickle-cell disease, Spinal cord injuries, Tourette syndrome. More information is available on the cannabis via the internet.

What is the best way to use cannabis medicinally?

A: If you are treating a serious illness such as cancer and have access to cannabis oil then this is best taken orally by placing a small amount either under your tongue or inside of the cheek. If you wish to smoke cannabis, which is advisable for pain relief as the effect is felt more rapidly then we suggest you use what is known as a vaporizer or e-pen. These gently heat the cannabis to release the cannabinoids. There are tinctures and transdermal patches for more discretional use, however it is not advisable to smoke cannabis in tobacco joints for obvious health reasons. There are also edibles in the form of candies, cookies, drinks and food based products to consider based upon the dosage.