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On Wednesday, July 15, the Colorado Board of Health voted against adding  post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) to the list of conditions which qualify a patient for medical marijuana.

The 6-2 vote, which was met by boos and shouts from the crowd, went against the recommendation of the state’s chief medical officer.

Tony Cappello (photo below), an epidemiologist and president of the board, reported that he could not get behind the approval of medical marijuana for PTSD because of the lack of scientific evidence supporting it.

tony

Another board member who felt that science did not provide enough evidence, Dr. Christopher Stanley, stated:

“I’m struggling with the science piece.”

The American and Colorado psychiatric associations, including board member Dr. Ray Estacio, an internist at Denver Health and associate professor in medicine at the University of Colorado Denver, do not support marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.

John Evans, the director of Veterans 4 Freedom, was vocal about his dislike for the ruling:

“It is our brothers and sisters who are committing suicide every day. We know cannabis can help. We’re not going to go away.”

The court featured a dozen veterans who said cannabis has helped to save their lives where pharmaceuticals have failed. The issue many veterans expressed about the legally prescribed drugs that are given to them for the treatment of PTSD symptoms, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and opioids, is that the drugs have almost killed them or have hurt their overall quality of life.

In a state where recreational marijuana has been legalized, Evans feels that Colorado is putting income over helping veterans:

“We’ve legalized it. We’ll take the tax dollars from our tourists (for recreational marijuana) before we’ll help our vets.”

One of the two board members who voted in favor of medical marijuana for PTSD, Joan Sowinski, said the testimonies from veterans who suffer from PTSD along with recent research was persuasive enough for her to support it.

Until the issue can be revisited by the board, it appears that it will be up to further scientific evidence to change the mind of the voters.

photo credit: South Platte Sentinel

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