A bipartisan bill to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for New York’s medical marijuana program was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during Veterans Day weekend. The Senate passed S 5629 in June (50-13), and the Assembly version, A 7006, received overwhelming approval in May (131-8). New York is the 28th state to allow medical marijuana to be used to treat PTSD.
“Gov. Cuomo should be applauded for helping thousands of New York veterans find relief with medical marijuana,” said Bob Becker, Legislative Director for the New York State Council of Veterans Organizations. “PTSD is a serious problem facing our state, and now we have one more tool available to alleviate suffering.”
Thank you to all of our supporters who joined our efforts by contacting your elected officials. It is because of your dedication we were able to get the PTSD bill signed in New York.
The Minnesota medical cannabis program is now accepting petitions to add qualifying conditions. Once again, MPP is teaming up with local advocate group Sensible Minnesota to petition to expand the program.
Post-traumatic stress disorder — which was added as a result of last year’s petition process — qualifies starting on Aug. 1, and the year before we were successful in efforts to add intractable pain. This year we are looking at adding several new conditions. They are: nausea, autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease, and chronic pain.
If you suffer from one of these conditions, are the guardian of someone who does, or if you are a health care professional who treats one of these conditions, we want to hear from you! Please fill out this form to let us know who you are, what condition is relevant to you, and to share your story. Sensible Minnesota or MPP Foundation will be submitting letters of support along with the petitions.
On Thursday, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed S. 16, a bill that will significantly improve patients’ access to Vermont’s medical marijuana program. The bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease to the list of qualifying conditions. It also authorizes an additional dispensary (bringing the statewide total to five), and it allows existing dispensaries to open one additional location each. When the patient registry reaches 7,000, an additional dispensary will be authorized.
You can read a complete summary of the bill here.
In other news, the governor’s office, legislative leaders, and advocates are making progress on a marijuana legalization compromise bill that could pass this summer during the veto session that is scheduled to begin on June 21.
Colorado just added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for the state's medical marijuana program.
The Cannabist reports:
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday signed Senate Bill 17 into law. The bill opens the doors for Colorado residents to receive a doctor’s OK to use medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD symptoms.
It’s the first new qualifying condition added under the state’s medical marijuana law since it was implemented in 2001. The state’s eight other qualifying conditions are: cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, cachexia, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, and severe pain.
The inclusion of PTSD among Colorado’s medical marijuana qualifying conditions has been a hotly contested issue of recent years.
Coordinated bids led by veterans groups fell short as the Colorado Board of Health quashed requests for PTSD’s inclusion and legislative measures languished in the General Assembly. The Colorado Board of Health has not added any new qualifying conditions since the medical marijuana law’s inception, citing lack of “peer-reviewed published studies of randomized controlled trials or well-designed observational studies showing efficacy in humans,” officials have previously told The Cannabist.
Proponents have argued that it’s not cost-effective for PTSD patients and it’s a risk to military veterans’ benefits to purchase recreational marijuana as a potential treatment for their ailments. Additionally, they argue that there is limited availability of suitable marijuana products — heavy in the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — that have been claimed effective for symptoms such as anxiety, nightmares and pain.
Twenty-five of the 29 states with medical marijuana programs now allow patients with PTSD to qualify. Bills to add PTSD to state medical marijuana programs have been approved and are now awaiting governors’ signatures in New Hampshire and Vermont.
Despite a recommendation from the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner decided not to add eight medical conditions to the state's medical cannabis pilot program. This is the second time his health department has turned down expanding the list of qualifying conditions.
The petition included four pain syndromes and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The first time Gov. Rauner’s health department rejected new conditions, the governor noted that the program was not yet fully up and running. However, now that dispensaries have opened in Illinois, that reasoning no longer applies. The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board reviewed relevant studies and heard testimony from patients who could find relief if their conditions were added to the program.
Adding qualifying conditions would significantly improve the state program. The medical cannabis program recognizes only a narrow range of conditions, and Illinois is one of very few medical marijuana states that excludes patients with serious pain.
The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board agreed last week to recommend adding eight new medical conditions to Illinois’ medical cannabis pilot program. The conditions are chronic pain syndrome, autism, osteoarthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain due to trauma, chronic post-operative pain, intractable pain, and irritable bowel syndrome.
The department previously rejected the advisory board’s recommendation that it approve 11 conditions. At the time it noted that the program was not yet fully up and running, but now with at least one dispensary opening this month, that reasoning no longer applies. Just yesterday, Harbory in Marion, Illinois became the first dispensary to open in the state.
These changes would significantly improve the state program. The medical cannabis program recognizes only a narrow range of conditions, and Illinois is in the minority of medical marijuana states when it comes to options for patients with serious pain. In addition, an increasing number of medical marijuana states recognize post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seriously ill patients in Illinois should not be left behind. The state should listen to its team of experts and adopt these conditions without delay.
Late last week, the director of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, accepted a recommendation that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) be added as a qualifying condition for Michigan’s medical marijuana program. This makes Michigan the eighth state where patients with PTSD qualify to use medical marijuana.
Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Steve Arwood issued a press release last Friday, stating that he has decided to approve the recommendation, despite stating several concerns. Mr. Arwood ultimately chose to put his “trust in the medical professionals in Michigan to certify the use of medical marihuana for PTSD with the utmost care and attention to the patient seeking assistance.”
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD will affect 7-8% of Americans at some point in their lives. In Michigan, that’s about three quarters of a million people. PTSD can be debilitating in all areas of a person’s life, impacting sleep, work, and relationships.
This decision would not have been made without all those who provided comments in support of adding PTSD to the medical marijuana program.
The past month has seen the state of Maine take some notable steps toward positive marijuana policy reform. On June 7, a bill to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, LD 1229, was narrowly defeated. Despite losing this time, this marked one of the best votes in a state legislature for a legalization bill. The sponsor, Portland Democrat Rep. Diane Russell, has vowed to continue pushing for this legislation.
Even if statewide change may be slow in coming, activists aren’t waiting around to promote policy alternatives at the local level. Earlier this month, petitioners submitted the signatures required to propose a ballot initiative in the city of Portland that would make possession of marijuana legal for adults. MPP and other groups have been taking every opportunity to educate voters about this initiative, including at a recent beer festival, where Maine political director David Boyer informed attendees about the objective safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.
And on Wednesday, the Maine Legislature approved a bill that would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for its medical marijuana program. Maine will now join California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Mexico in allowing marijuana to be used to treat PTSD.
Despite a previous lack of clinical data to support their claims, thousands of people suffering from PTSD have reported finding great relief from their symptoms by using marijuana. Now there is some research to add to the anecdotal evidence.
Patients’ gravitation towards marijuana inspired researchers at New York University Langone Medical Center to examine the brain’s response to cannabinoid (CB1) receptors, a first-of-its-kind study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
They found that when an individual consumes some of the cannabinoids found in marijuana, CB1 receptors are activated in the brain, impairing memory and reducing anxiety, a blessing for those scarred by past events. With this information, scientists hope to manufacture a “CB1 equilibrium”-promoting, trauma-targeting drug.
It should be noted that NIH departments rejected a study proposal in 2011 that sought to test the effects of whole-plant marijuana on a group of veterans suffering from PTSD.
Currently, New Mexico, Delaware, and Connecticut explicitly allow PTSD as a qualifying condition to use medical marijuana, and a bill to do so will likely pass in Oregon this year. Doctors in California and Massachusetts may recommend medical marijuana for PTSD patients if they think it will ease debilitating symptoms.
The Oregon Senate passed a bill allowing people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to secure a medical marijuana card on Wednesday in a 19-11 vote.
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, which passed in 1998, allows patients with certain debilitating conditions like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and HIV/AIDS to use medical marijuana. Senate Bill 281 would add the severe anxiety disorder that can occur after a traumatic event like war, assault, or disaster to the list.
The bill is now on its way to the House.
If you live in Oregon, please contact your representative to ask him or her to support SB 281.