New York could soon be a state that allows patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) legal access to medical marijuana.
Earlier this week, the Republican-dominate state Senate put its stamp of approval on a proposal that would incorporate PTSD into the Compassionate Care Act. The bill, sponsored by Senator Diane Savino, would give “victims of domestic violence, rape victims, police officers and firefighters” the ability to purchase cannabis medicine.
"We were doing two things when we were adopting the Compassionate Care Act," Savino told the Senate prior to the vote. "We were developing a public health policy and we were also re-socializing the way people think about marijuana after having spent close to 70 years being told over and over that marijuana is dangerous and marijuana is bad, that there are good drugs and there are bad drugs, that good drugs come from the pharmacy and bad drugs come from the black market. And that's what we were trying to change."
The bill is now on its way to the desk of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who, according to a spokesperson in his office, is planning to review the legislation, but has not yet determined whether he will sign it into law.
New York has been working for the past several months to expand its medical marijuana program in such a way that prevents it from meeting its untimely demise. The state announced last year that it would start allowing patients suffering from chronic pain to participate in the program, a move that is expected to give thousands more people permission to purchase cannabis products from dispensaries all over the state.
Health officials are also pushing to expand the number of dispensaries permitted to sell cannabis products. The situation has caused the state’s existing cannabis companies to file a lawsuit against the health department, arguing that its willingness to expand the market before patient numbers reside at an expectable level “will immediately launch the collapse of the medical cannabis industry in New York.”
Incidentally, the addition of PTSD could give thousands more patients the ability to use medical marijuana.
However, there is concern that the state may not be ready to give medical marijuana to PTSD patients, as health officials, who have the ability to add any condition to the program, have not yet determined the condition is deserving of Compassionate Care status.
It is distinctly possible that if the governor does overlook PTSD as a qualified condition in the coming weeks, health officials could bring it up for consideration later this year.
But marijuana advocates believe the time to act is now.
"PTSD is a serious problem facing New York's veterans," said Bob Becker, legislative director for the New York State Council of Veterans Organization. "We applaud the legislature for passing this legislation, and urge Governor [Andrew] Cuomo to sign it."