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Recent changes to Washington’s medical marijuana policies mean that state residents suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may now qualify for medical cannabis.

State medical providers may now authorize the use of medical cannabis under Senate Bill 5052 to treat both PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, a move that veterans like Dante Cammarata are applauding.

A former U.S. Army medic who served during the invasion of Iraq, Cammarata spent much of his time overseas treating wounds and dispensing medication to other soldiers. When he returned to U.S. soil and had his own serious, although less apparent, medical problems stemming from his time abroad, he found that the cannabis plant helped him immensely. So much so, in fact, that he credits the plant with saving his life.

Now, he hopes that medical marijuana will provide others the same relief it gave him and believes it may help reduce the number of veteran suicides while also reducing veteran reliance on prescription medications. According to one estimate, one out of every five veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, and Cammarata believes those suffering should be able to seek relief with medical marijuana without fearing being on the wrong side of the law. He says,

“We served this country proudly, and we don’t want to be seen as criminals for trying to help ourselves.”

To date, research on medical marijuana in relation to treating PTSD is inconclusive. However, one state-funded study is already underway in Colorado, and the executive director of the Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access reports that Washington is now one of 11 U.S. states to list PTSD as a qualifying condition for legally obtaining medical cannabis.

While medical marijuana cards have not been historically difficult for Washington residents to attain, this may also be affected by the passage of Senate Bill 5052. Furthermore, Washington medical marijuana dispensaries have not, to date, been closely regulated, although this too may change under the state’s new regulations.

The new legal changes will more closely define what medical conditions are considered grounds for medical marijuana authorization, and they are also expected to make it more difficult for medical providers to distribute program cards.

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