Marijuana for PTSD Still Controversial in Colorado

Over the course of the last year, a number of states have acquiesced to allow medical marijuana to be distributed for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. army

For example:

  • The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate voted on separate occasions to allow the Veterans Affairs office doctors to talk about medicinal marijuana with their patients as an alternative form of treatment if they suffer from PTSD.
  • In Ohio, PTSD was listed as one of the 20 conditions that qualified under the state’s medical marijuana law signed by the governor.
  • In Illinois (Cook County, to be specific), a judge ordered that the state’s department of health add PTSD as a condition that qualifies for medical marijuana.
  • In New Jersey, the state assembly passed a bill that qualified PTSD as a condition for which sufferers could obtain medical marijuana.
  • In Rhode Island, the governor signed a law listing PTSD as a condition that is debilitating for purposes of medical cannabis treatment.

In addition to all this, the results of the November election mean that 21 states plus Washington D.C. and Guam gave the green light for marijuana to be used to treat PTSD. However, not all states are on the same page about this. 

According to The Cannabis, the state of Colorado has not added PTSD to its roster of applicable medical conditions on its approved medical marijuana law, which passed in 2000. Of course, that state offers recreational marijuana, so presumably, former veterans and others suffering from PTSD still have access to it. However, they may not have the benefit of consulting with an experienced doctor.

In 2015, four military veterans and a sexual assault survivor filed a complaint against the state’s board of health after it specifically ruled against a proposal to add PTSD as a qualifying condition under the official medical marijuana rule.

Some doctors assert that politics are outpacing the research at this point, and that additional funding and studies are required in order to prove the benefits. This could be especially critical in the next few years, depending on the approach the new federal administration takes with regard to marijuana. If the attorney general chooses to shred the Cole Memo and go after states that allow recreational marijuana use, it will become all the more imperative that those suffering from PTSD have it listed as a qualifying condition under state medical marijuana laws.

It’s not clear exactly how many veterans rely on marijuana to treat PTSD. There is no study of it. What we do know, according to the National Center for PTSD, is that marijuana use overall has grown substantially over the last 10 years. A study in 2013 showed nearly 20 million people used marijuana in the last month, with 8 million using it daily. Daily use increased about 60 percent in 10 years and a number of factors were associated with increased use of marijuana – including diagnosis of PTSD. The number of veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD and co-occurring cannabis use disorder climbed from 13 percent in 2002 to nearly 23 percent in 2014. In that year, there were approximately 40,000 veterans who suffered from PTSD and substance abuse disorder who were also diagnosed with cannabis use disorder.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently gave the Ok for Colorado to move forward with a state-funded trial study that would examine the effects of marijuana on PTSD patients.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Update: Quest to get PTSD on Colorado medical marijuana list continues in court, July 2016, By Alicia Wallace, The Cannabist

More Blog Entries:

Media and Marijuana: DEA Blames Media for Difficulty Enforcing Pot Laws, Jan. 16, 2017, L.A. Marijuana Lawyer Blog