New York veterans push for medical marijuana to treat PTSD

Bob Becker still has his reservations about marijuana usage.

When it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition many of his fellow veterans live with, his views on medical marijuana have shifted.

“… I talk to veterans all over. They tell me that they’re smoking a little marijuana … they’re smoking and said, ‘I feel better.'”.

The Council of Veterans Organizations has lined up behind a proposal in the state Legislature that would add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for patients in the state’s tightly regulated medical marijuana program.

Currently, there are 11 conditions, ranging from cancer to chronic pain, that patients must have in order to be certified by a doctor for the medical marijuana program.

Under the PTSD legislation – sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat who was behind the Compassionate Care Act – that condition would simply be added to the list of those treatable through use of medical marijuana.

PTSD – a condition not limited to the veteran population – was treatable with medical marijuana in at least 23 states as of last year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Among the state’s that have approved it is New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie in signing legislation last year explicitly noted PTSD’s prevalence among veterans.

There are still New York lawmakers who are unconvinced of medical marijuana’s efficacy for treating PTSD. “It would be I think premature to explore alternative treatment options that might cause damage if the diagnosis was wrong,” said Republican Sen. Tom Croci, a former Navy commander, current reservist and chair of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee.

Savino’s bill sponsor’s memo notes that research is limited because marijuana remains federally illegal.

It does point to a 2014 study in New Mexico that looked at 80 patients who reported a more than 75 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms while using cannabis.

The state Council of Veterans Organizations’ Becker said he certainly does not want an open market for marijuana “We’re here to help people who are in need with sickness or some disease like PTSD to make them feel better, get rid of that pain … there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Source: Times Union