Lawmakers in Colorado have agreed to add post-traumatic stress disorder to its list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
Legislation to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana has been approved by the Colorado Legislature. The state Senate signed off on the measure last week, and the bill is now on the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is expected to sign it into law.
The Allow Medical Marijuana Use for Stress Disorders bill (Senate Bill 17) will allow combat veterans and other patients suffering from PTSD to legally access cannabis. PTSD is a stress disorder that develops after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. The disorder causes severe anxiety, and uncontrollable flashbacks and nightmares.
Studies have shown cannabis to be beneficial for managing the symptoms associated with PTSD. Cannabinoids found in cannabis influence the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays an essential role in the regulation of several body processes, including memory consolidation, retrieval and extension. In one study, cannabis use was found to effectively reduce PTSD symptoms by 75 percent.
“I’m really excited to see this option being afforded to veterans because they really need this,” Steve DeFino, founder of the Veterans Farmers Association, told KOAA News 5.
DeFino is a former soldier that was critically injured while serving overseas nine years ago. He said he went through dozens of medications before switching to cannabis and has since been growing it at his home, which is allowed under Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws.
“I’m able to live a healthy life, sick free, almost pain free and a qualify of life to where I’m not thinking about killing myself all the time, it’s really nice to be able to have good medicine in your hands,” he said.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Irene Aguilar, was amended in the House on its second reading to add a stipulation regarding access to minors. Children under the age of 18 can be recommended medical marijuana for PTSD, but must first obtain two doctor recommendations. One of the doctors must be a board-certified pediatrician, a board-certified family physician or a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. After being amended, the bill passed the House by a vote of 39-25 before being approved by the Senate 32-2.
“PTSD is one of those things we really don’t have great medical treatment for and often people are left on multiple medications with side effects,” said Aguilar.
Once Hickenlooper signs the bill, PTSD will become the first qualifying condition to be added to Colorado’s program since the passing of the medical marijuana amendment in 2001. Numerous petitions to the Colorado Board of Health, legislative efforts and a court challenge have previously failed to add conditions in the past.
Colorado will join 21 other states that have approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of PTSD. Under Colorado’s medical cannabis law, qualified patients can possess up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana and cultivate up to 6 cannabis plants.