In a ground-breaking decision that will make veterans in Illinois and across the country feel vindicated in their requests for medical marijuana treatments, Judge Neil Cohen of Cook County, Illinois ordered the state to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of eligible diseases that can legally be treated with medical cannabis within 30 days. The original lawsuit was filed by Daniel Paul Jabs who served in Iraq, and is one of eight suits filed with the state that stem from consistent rejections concerning medical conditions that are greatly improved by cannabis. These lawsuits are part of Illinois’ allowance for people to petition in order to add eligible health conditions to the state’s medical marijuana list. Despite a unanimous vote by the medical marijuana advisory board of Illinois to allow PTSD on the list, Governor Bruce Rauner’s crew has refused to do so. This is despite the April approval of a PTSD cannabis treatment trial by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Other Possible Additions to Illinois’ Medical Cannabis List
Among the conditions that other plaintiffs are trying to add to Illinois’ medical cannabis treatment list are autism, intractable pain, osteoarthritis, chronic pain, polycystic disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic post-operative pain, and migraines. Among the states that already list PTSD on their list of medical marijuana approved conditions are Ohio, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Delaware. Even in liberal Colorado, PTSD is not currently approved – although recreational consumption is. The state is funding a study of PTSD and cannabis, though, and patients are suing the state to get the right to treat their PTSD condition with medical marijuana in the future. Illinois Governor Rauner is currently considering a bill to extend the medical marijuana pilot program in Illinois for an additional two and a half years, and to add PTSD to the list of conditions.
How Does Cannabis Help PTSD?
Colorado’s new PTSD study will certainly find all the answers to this question, and could be helped along considerably if the federal government rescheduled cannabis to make it more accessible for science and medical patients in general. The National Center for PTSD found that people with PTSD increasingly consume cannabis in order to deal with their symptoms. Although the symptoms of PTSD are many and varied, there are a few core symptoms that affect most patients. Because the endocannabinoid system is an important part of PTSD, patients with the disorder have “greater availability” of cannabinoid type 1 receptors as opposed to other people. It has also been suggested by Israel’s Dr. Mechoulam that the endocannabinoid system is related to memory, and that painful or traumatic memories can be suspended or completely eradicated through a normal process called memory extinction. Cannabis may help with this, as well as relaxing PTSD sufferers and dispelling the rage and anger that are also common symptoms of the disorder.
As the Colorado study goes on, and more states approve medical marijuana for the treatment of disorders, I hope that PTSD will rise to the forefront as epilepsy and autism have as a disorder that can be helped greatly through cannabis consumption.
This post was originally published on July 7, 2016, it was updated on March 15, 2017.