New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shocked the cannabis reform community this week by putting his signature on a medical marijuana expansion bill, making post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a qualified condition.
On Wednesday, the Republican governor, who has considered previous expansion efforts a “front for legalization,” signed Assembly Bill 457, making it legal for veterans and other people suffering from PTSD to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program.
There is no waiting period for the law to take effect.
A statement issued by Governor Christie suggests the measure was put into action to help a fraction of soldiers who reportedly emerged with this disorder following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Christie said the new law is intended to “provide struggling veterans and others with the ability to use medical marijuana to treat PTSD, but only after it has been determined by a physician or psychiatrist that conventional medical therapy is ineffective.”
What this means for those hoping to find normalcy inside the debilitating clutches of this severe anxiety disorder is they must first exhaust traditional treatment options before leaning on a medical professional for a recommendation.
“Requiring conventional medical therapy to be ineffective in treating PTSD before medical marijuana can be prescribed is an appropriate threshold safeguard to deter misuse in the Medical Marijuana Program," Christie said. “The mere potential for abuse by some should not deter the State from taking action that may ease the daily struggles of our veterans and others who legitimately suffer from PTSD.”
As it stands, New Jersey is the 18th state to certify the use of medical marijuana for PTSD patients.
The program is also available to people with multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, and a handful of other conditions.
While Christie’s support on this issue is a major victory for thousands of veterans living in New Jersey, many of them will be forced to seek medical advice outside the realm of Veterans Affairs to gain access. Federal law prohibits VA doctors from discussing medical marijuana with their patients.