Veterans are key as the wave of states accepts medical marijuana for PTSD


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By Jennifer Peltz The Associated Press

NEW YORK – It was a revealing stage for a decision on whether patients with post-traumatic stress disorder could use medical marijuana.

In the context of the nation's largest Veterans Day parade, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this month that he would sign legislation that will make New York the latest wave of states for acceptable treatment as treatment. against PTSD, although it is illegal under federal law and does not have exhaustive and conclusive medical research.

Twenty-eight states plus the District of Columbia now include post-traumatic stress disorder in their medical marijuana programs, a count that has more than doubled in the past two years, according to data compiled by the marijuana policy legalization project. A state number 29, Alaska, does not incorporate PTSD into its medical marijuana program, but it allows everyone over the age of 20 to buy boats legally.

The increase came in the midst of an increasingly visible defense of the veterans' groups.

Retired Seaman Staff Sergeant Mark DiPasquale says the drug freed him from the 17 opiates, anti-anxiety pills and other medications he prescribed for migraines, post-traumatic stress and other service injuries that included a forced helicopter landing in Iraq in 2005.

"I felt like a zombie and wanted to hurt someone," says DiPasquale, co-founder of the Veterans Cannabis Collective Foundation based in Rochester, New York. Its goal is to educate veterinarians about the drug that is deliberately called by the scientific name of cannabis.

DiPasquale lobbied to extend New York's nearly two-year medical marijuana program to include post-traumatic stress. He qualified because of other conditions, but he felt that the drug alleviated anxiety, insomnia and other symptoms of PTSD and encouraged him to focus on well-being.

"Do I still have PTSD? Absolutely," says DiPasquale, 42. But "I have returned to my old self". I love people again. "

In a sign of how much the problem has settled among veterans, the US Legion of 2.2 million members began to pressure the federal government this summer so that doctors from the Department of Veterans Affairs will recommend medical marijuana where it is legal The Legion began defending last year to ease federal restrictions on medical marijuana research, an exit to drug policy for the organization for almost a century.

" People ask, "Are not you the law and order group? & # 39; , yes, we are, "said executive director Verna Jones at a press conference organized by the Legion earlier this month at the US Capitol, but" when veterans come to us and say that a particular treatment it is working for them, we must listen to them and do scientific research. "

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Even the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin said recently that" there may be some evidence that this (the medical marijuana) is beginning to be useful, "while noting that your agency can not help patients obtain the illegal drug. (Some prescription drugs that contain a synthetic version of a key chemical in marijuana do have federal approval to treat nausea related to chemotherapy.)

Medical marijuana was legalized for the first time in 1996 in California for a wide variety of Conditions New Mexico in 2009 became the first state specifically to include patients with PTSD. The states have increasingly joined in particular since 2014.

"It's a radical change," says Michael Krawitz, a disabled veteran of the Air Force who now runs Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, a group from Elliston, Virginia that He persecuted the problem in many states.

There are still questions and doubts -some on the part of the veterans- about the defense of medical marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.

Removed from legislation that added six other diseases and syndromes to Georgia law that allows certain medicinal cannabis oils. The chairman of the New York Senate veterans committee voted against adding PTSD to the state program, suggesting that the medication could mask his symptoms.

"The sooner we allow them to live and experience the kind of emotions we do, in a paradigm based on abstinence, the sooner they return home," said Sen. Thomas Croci, a Republican, a former Navy intelligence officer. current reservist who served in Afghanistan.

The American Psychiatric Association says that there is not enough evidence to support the use of marijuana to treat PTSD. The Veterans of America group of 82,000 members agrees.

"You would not have cancer treatments that are not approved for you or your family members," and marijuana should be subject to the same scrutiny, says Dr. Thomas Berger, who heads the Board of Veterans Health VVA A recent evaluation by the federal advisory panel of two decades of studies found limited evidence that a synthetic chemical cousin of marijuana could help alleviate PTSD, but also some data suggesting that the use of marijuana might worsen. symptom.

Advocates of medical marijuana note that it has been difficult to obtain evidence when evidence is complicated by the legal status of pot in the United States

In Phoenix a federally approved marijuana clinical trial is being conducted as a treatment of PTSD for veterans, and the results of the current phase could be ready to be sent for publication in a couple of years, says one of the researchers, Dr. Suzanne Sisley.

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