VA refuses dying veteran pain pills after he tests positive for marijuana

Gary Dixon is a 65-year old disabled Vietnam vet, battling stage four lung cancer. He regularly smokes marijuana to help him with some of the physical pain.

It’s nothing new for him.  The Kansas man says he started smoking marijuana back in 1972 to help him through some emotional pain.

Dixon, who doesn’t have much time left to live, also takes 10 to 15 pills a day.

When he drove to Topeka on Tuesday for his therapy like he normally does, he had to take a urine test. When the results showed marijuana in his blood, the VA refused to give him the pain pills.

According to WBAY, Dixon is part of a growing number of vets caught in a nationwide change within the VA which requires them to sign an ‘opiate consent’ form.  That form outlines the negative effects of mixing pain killers and marijuana.

Under the new VA guidelines, vets can get their prescriptions filled, or use marijuana, but can’t do both.

An official with the Kansas VA had this to say about Dixon’s predicament: “If you take marijuana and you take pain medication these are two things that decrease your alertness.”

Several veterans groups are lobbying Congress to change the VA’s policy in states which allow the use of medical marijuana.

Meantime, Dixon says if he can’t get his pills from the VA he’ll go elsewhere. He says he’s trying to find the $400 he’ll need each month for the prescriptions.

While in Vietnam, Dixon says he was exposed to Agent Orange.  “I hurt, and I hurt from something I got fighting for my country,” he said.


  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

Post navigation