Despite the evolution of cannabis, “marijuana” laws, access and legalization in now 29 states and the District of Columbia, many states do not permit access to medical marijuana to ease any psychological conditions, including PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, one of the greatest killers of our veterans.
There are currently twenty-two states, Guam and Puerto Rico that recognize PTSD as a qualifying condition or have language in their qualifiers that would umbrella Post Traumatic Stress Disorder into a category. US States with laws on the books that allow patients with PTSD to get a recommendation for medical marijuana red cards currently are:
2. Arkansas, but even though “The Natural State” has PTSD as a medical marijuana qualifying condition that is currently in effect, licenses for dispensaries will not be accepted until June 1, 2017.
3. California, “The Golden State” does not specifically declare PTSD, but it is “umbrella’d.”
6. Florida – “The Sunshine State” has an issue with certain methods of medicine ingestion, non-smokable forms of cannabis only.
10. Maryland, but again, not specifically PTSD.
13. Minnesota added PTSD in December 2016.
14. Montana, also a recent legislative move, but it doesn’t go into effect until July of this year.
15. New Jersey, another recent addition for PTSD, September 2016.
16. New Mexico
17. Nevada, added in November 2016.
18. North Dakota
20. Oregon, PTSD added in 2013.
21. Pennsylvania, but it could take up to 2 years to get the program implemented.
22. Washington PTSD added in 2016 also.
Some states have generalized conditions that allow for PTSD patients to have an umbrella diagnosis which qualifies. For example, California has twelve qualifying conditions, the twelfth is one that could “count” for veterans with PTSD:
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
- Chronic pain.
- Persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to,
spasms associated with multiple sclerosis.
- Seizures, including, but not limited to, seizures associated
- Severe nausea.
- Any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either:
(A) Substantially limits the ability of the person to conduct one
or more major life activities as defined in the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336).
(B) If not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the patient’s
safety or physical or mental health
The District of Columbia, similarly, has these qualifying conditions, and PTSD can often qualify as ‘debilitating’:
- Muscle spasms
- Multiple sclerosis
- Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Decompensated cirrhosis
- Seizure disorders
- Any condition diagnosed as “debilitating” by a licensed physician
Some of the more confusing state positions, which do not consider PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to be a qualifying condition but allow for other conditions, like a rare disease that impacts a very small number of people, as is the case in Michigan.
“The Great Lake State” allows for fourteen qualifying conditions:
Cancer, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Lou Gehrig’s disease (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS), Alzheimer’s, Cachexia (wasting disease), Severe and chronic pain, Severe nausea, Seizures, Epilepsy, Muscle spasms, Multiple sclerosis and Nail-Patella syndrome.
Nail-Patella syndrome? Yes.
Nail-patella syndrome (NPS) is serious and sad. It is a rare genetic disorder. Although the symptoms and physical characteristics associated with NPS may vary greatly in range and severity, characteristic abnormalities tend to include improper development of the fingernails and toenails; absence and/or underdevelopment of the knee caps; limited movement of the elbow including extension and rotation caused by underdevelopment or dislocation of the radius (a forearm bone that is part of the elbow) and/or webbing of skin at the bend of the elbow(s); and/or abnormal projections of bone from the upper portion of both sides of the hipbone.
1 in 50,000 people have Nail-Patella syndrome.
In contrast, as of October 2016, it is estimated that 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.
New York has twelve qualifying conditions and five sub-conditions: Chronic pain, Cancer, Epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS), Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis (MS), Neuropathies, Spinal cord damage with spasticity which must include associated or complicating conditions: Cachexia or wasting syndrome, Severe or chronic pain, Severe nausea, Seizures, Severe or persistent muscle spasms. So in New York, patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome qualify for medical marijuana, but servicemen and women who fought for their country, veterans with PTSD, do not.
Not the IBS patients.
The state of New York’s logic.
One more state could be on that list very soon. Veterans and their supporters have battled for three years in Colorado, The Centennial State, to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions to become a medical marijuana patient. It was defeated every time. But last month, veterans declared victory after SB17-017 which would allow for individuals suffering from PTSD to access medical marijuana for their condition finally passed. It is now awaiting Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper’s signature to become law.
Travis Lippert, CEO of Colorado based CBD vape pen company, Veedverks, and a retired United States Air Force Captain and pilot was overjoyed, “Getting PTSD approved as a qualifying condition was an important victory in our tireless war against the war on medicine. This decision is going to save veterans’ lives.”