Veterans and other patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could soon have access to Colorado’s medical marijuana program, reports the Associated Press.
State lawmakers are set to take up a vote on a proposal later this week aimed at giving patients plagued by this debilitating anxiety disorder the privilege of purchasing medicinal cannabis from a local dispensary.
Although the vote will not bring about any immediate change, a favorable outcome would likely influence the Colorado Legislature to give serious consideration to the issue when it reconvenes at the beginning of 2017.
When Colorado approved medical marijuana several years ago, it did not include PTSD as a qualifying condition. But there is a provision built into the language of the law that allows additional health conditions to be added to the program under the direction of the Department of Health. The only problem is the board responsible for making the decision over which ailments should be considered a “legitimate health condition” has continued to deny PTSD based on the excuse that there is no federal data available that proves cannabis is effective at treating the disorder.
Last year, several PTSD patients filed a lawsuit against the Colorado Board of Health over its unwillingness to expand the program. The complaint argued that the board has not added a new qualified condition since the medical sector was launched fifteen years ago -- even though a leading state health official made a recommendation for them to do so.
The case is still wrapped up in court.
Although Colorado has operated a recreational marijuana market since 2014, giving PTSD patients the ability to purchase medicine from one of thousands of pot shops across the state, some patients say this option is inadequate because many of them are on fixed incomes and cannot afford the high taxes applied to recreational products. Some even say the recreational sector does not carry effective “medicinal” strains. Colorado’s change would put the state in line with 18 others and Washington, D.C., that allow cannabis for PTSD treatment. Montana voters will decide in November whether to make the same change, while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shocked the cannabis reform community this month by putting his signature on a medical marijuana expansion bill, making PTSD a qualified condition.