Ariz. Vets In Battle Against Anti-Medical Marijuana Senator

A long-stalled University of Arizona study on marijuana’s effects on PTSD patients is one step closer to proceeding now that a state senator has lifted her objection.
By @FrederickReese |
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    AZ Senator Kimberly Yee

    AZ Senator Kimberly Yee

    Update: Following the original publication of this article, MintPress News was contacted by Robert Caputo, the treasurer of the Arizona Veteran’s Assistance Committee. According to Caputo, the chairman of the organization, Marc Victor, made an incorrect statement in regards to the AVAC. Per Caputo, the recall has not been cancelled and no deal has been reached with Arizona Sen. Kimberly Yee toward placing the medicinal marijuana study proposal on her committee’s agenda.
    MintPress News will follow this story as it develops and will issue subsequent reports on the recall effort.

    The federal government undid decades of drug policy last month by approving a long-delayed study into the use of marijuana as a treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

    The proposal from the University of Arizona — backed by medical research advocate the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies — involves a 10-week study of the effects of medical marijuana on a group of 50 veterans with moderate to severe symptoms of PTSD. Until last month, however, researchers had been denied the ability to purchase the necessary marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Mississippi research farm — the only federally-approved marijuana-growing facility in the country.

    With the Public Health Service — the U.S. Surgeon General-headed uniformed agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — giving its approval last month and the FDA approving the study in 2011, the proposal only needs to clear one final hurdle — the Drug Enforcement Administration — before the proposed research would finally have full federal approval. With the Department of Veterans Affairs stating that veterans will not lose their federal benefits for legally using medical marijuana, it seemed that the study was finally on track.

    But in Arizona, the train for the first legal marijuana study in three decades stalled, if only temporarily. After the bill funding the study passed the Arizona House in a vote of 52-5, it was blocked in the state Senate, where state Sen. Kimberly Yee, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, refused to put the study on the committee’s agenda, effectively tabling it. Yee argued that the study represented a “back-door” attempt to push through marijuana legalization in Arizona.

    “Because of my concerns about limited state funds, I received assurances from those supporting such research that funds would come from the federal government or private donations and that no state money would be used. Today, they have turned their story around and have broken their promise,” Yee said last week in a statement.

    “As policymakers, we have to ask if this takes us down the path of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Arizona. The bill I proposed this year, SB 1389, using those same funds would educate our youth about the dangers of recreational marijuana and pay for public service announcements to prevent drug abuse.”

    Yee may have also been responding to the news that Michigan has approved the use of medical marijuana to treat PTSD among veterans or that Maryland decriminalized marijuana possession of less than 10 grams. Regardless of the cause of her objection, her resistance gave rise to opposition not only among veterans groups and medical marijuana advocates, but among her fellow state Republicans, as well.

    “Both myself and numerous community leaders have reached out to members of the senate regarding this bill, and Kimberly Yee is the only one who has not even returned my phone call,” Arizona Rep. Ethan Orr, the bill’s House sponsor, said in a statement last month. “It is unfortunate for the democratic process that one person has chosen to not hear the bill.”

    On the threat of a recall push from the Arizona Veterans Assistance Committee, Yee has agreed to allow the proposal to be heard by her committee and to talk to members of the medical marijuana community about drafting legislation next term.

    “Although it isn’t as good as I would want, it is a clear victory for our side,” Marc Victor, chairman of the Arizona Veterans Assistance Committee, said in an email to recall supporters. As part of the compromise, the recall will be cancelled. “Senator Yee will now support MMJ research. More importantly, she has moved from an enemy of medical marijuana to at least a moderate supporter.”

    Due to marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, an exemption from the state ban on the drug was needed for the study to proceed. Schedule I drugs are stated to be extremely addictive and dangerous to health and to have no medical value. However, advocates of medical marijuana argue that marijuana’s primary active chemicals — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) — can reduce nausea, lower blood pressure and offer neuroprotection by reducing neuron firing activity. PTSD researchers believe that this neuroprotective effect of cannabis consumption can be used by victims of severe brain trauma to reduce emotional or psychological distress or confusion.

    “There are a hundred scenarios in my head at any time and using cannabis quiets that, it allows me to go through my day being productive,” said PTSD patient and Iraq War veteran Ricardo Pereyda.

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      • bob

        am i understanding your update correctly? that the entire basis of this story may be completely false? one guy gave you the info that this is all based on and now another guy from the same organization is saying the exact opposite? why don’t you hold off on publishing something that’s has a 50/50 chance of being nonsense until after you get the discrepancy sorted out between marc victor and robert caputo?

      • Jim S.

        The Country Served that ‘Talks the Talk’ but very rarely ‘Walks the Walk’ especially through their representatives, federal and states!!

        Why do Conservatives and much of the Country Attack the VA and it’s dedicated civil servant personal as well as the many needed volunteers!!

        Freedom Isn’t Free, We Paid For It, American Veterans!!
        Reality as to those of us who’ve served:

        They, conservatives, don’t seek a smaller government, that’s never been their goal. They seek a privatized for corporate profit government, with no accountability, regulations, built into what would be corporate run agencies contracted by them, no bid or for campaign contributions, and paid with the peoples treasury. and much more expensive to run and maintain, and we’ve been seeing just what those private contracts have been giving back, think the NSA and the military contractors and the costs for, off the government treasury, they Never mention the private sector, with their huge amounts of corporate cash especially in the executive suites, in the hearings or public displays, that handles similar issues, like hospitals and clinics as they attack VA personal when issues arise. Nor do they try to help the, under funded and especially with our wars, VA in overcoming, the VA does that on their own mostly, and in these past some five years with the help of the Executive branch and it’s Cabinet, and with what is allotted to them through the representatives of the people served!!

        “”26 March 2014 – In U.S., hospital-acquired infections run rampant””
        “”16 April 2014 – Children’s Hospital investigated five patient deaths from deadly fungal disease in 2009″”

        “12 years also is a long time. We now have a lifetime responsibility to a generation of service members, veterans and their families.” Dr. Jonathan Woodson 11 Sep. 2013: ‘With 9/11 Came Lifetime Responsibility’ {two tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, came with these two recent unpaid for wars, nor the results of, DeJa-Vu all over again from the previous decades and wars from! Ignore the many issues, by those served, no need to fund!}

        Sen. Bernie Sanders told Republicans: “If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, than don’t go war. These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about, We have a moral obligation to support them.” February, 26th, 2014

        “If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too” “not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American.” -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

        Where were the ‘offsets’ to federal spending as the rubber stamping, more then the off the books wars with no-bid contracts, was going on and claiming ‘patriotism’ for?

        TX-19 Congressional Candidate Neal Marchbanks – Veteran: 28 March 2014 – “Congress controls the budget for the VA and it is the fault of Congress that the VA does not have enough employees and that the facilities are too small.”
        Congress, in Veteran Marchbanks statement, are the people served and who representatives work for, or are supposed to!

        USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71