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PTSD could make medical marijuana list

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has denied Post Traumatic Stress Disorder four times as an illness approved for medical marijuana since they set the first list in 2001. However, a 5-0 vote of a legislative committee on marijuana policy may force the CDPHE’s hand when the full Legislature reconvenes in January.When Amendment 20 was passed in 2000, it allowed medical marijuana as a treatment for patients with cancer, glaucoma or HIV/AIDS. It also allowed physicians to recommend marijuana for chronic and debilitating diseases that cause wasting syndrome, muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea and severe pain. Since 2001, the health board has received petitions to add 13 other conditions to the list, including PTSD, but the board has denied each of them.ìCannabis treats all the multiple issues that are going on with PTSD like no other drug,î said Dr. Joseph Cohen, who testified to the legislative committee and who recommends medical marijuana to other patients as part of his Boulder practice. ìIt’s not just for veterans.îVeterans are the most common demographic considered when discussing PTSD. Thirty-one percent of Vietnam veterans and between 11 and 20 percent of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans are impacted by PTSD, according to a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs report. However, military service is only one source of the kinds of trauma likely to cause PTSD. Sexual assault and abuse, accidents, violence and witnessing death or injury can trigger effects even long after the trauma. About 8 percent of the overall U.S. population will have PTSD at some point in their lives, according to the VA report.Eighteen states allow medical marijuana for PTSD. New Mexico was the first state to allow it in 2009, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. CDPHE has rejected each of four petitions to add PTSD to its list of approved conditions because there is a lack of peer-reviewed studies showing that medical cannabis products improve PTSD symptoms.Colorado is funding a study that could provide evidence about the pros and cons of using cannabis for PTSD. The Drug Enforcement Agency approved the state’s funding of studies that use marijuana in clinical trials. The state Legislature approved $9 million in grants in 2014 for medical studies. The funding was delayed by federal prohibitions on marijuana studies.The PTSD study, partially run by the University of Colorado, will be the first time a clinical trial intended to develop smoked botanical marijuana into a legal prescription drug has received full approval from regulatory agencies, said Brad Burge of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Seventy-six U.S. military veterans will participate in the placebo-controlled study.The Colorado Legislature will take up the bill recommended by the five-member committee, ìMedical Marijuana Use for Stress Disorders,î when the new session begins in January.

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