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Vets confounded by dueling medical pot rules

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Veterans Affairs allows it in some states while Justice Department cracks down

For two years, John Riccio worried that smoking marijuana to relieve his chronic back and shoulder pain would get him in trouble with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Then the department last year began allowing former service members to use medical marijuana -- in states that have laws permitting it -- in conjunction with their regular treatment. Riccio, a Navy veteran living in South Park, says he sleeps easier now that he can talk about it with his VA doctor without risking his benefits.

The policy clarification has veterans like Riccio wondering why the government continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug alongside heroin and deny that the plant has any medicinal use.
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