Good news for Michigan residents suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder: as of Tuesday, PTSD is officially on the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program.
The announcement that PTSD is now an accepted medical condition came from Steve Arwood, director of the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, on March 14. Arwood and his colleagues at the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs had been petitioned by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review Panel to add PTSD to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for the medical marijuana program.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008. This is the first time PTSD has been added to the state’s program, as well as the first time a new qualifying condition has been added to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.
Although medical marijuana is legal in 20 states and Washington, D.C., and it’s estimated that there are about 7.7 million people suffering from PTSD in the United States, PTSD is only a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana program in seven other states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon.
Persons suffering from PTSD can also legally obtain marijuana in Colorado and Washington state because those two states have legalized recreational marijuana use.
It should be noted that the first-ever legal recreational marijuana sale in the U.S. was to Sean Azzariti, an Iraq war veteran who suffers from PTSD. Because PTSD is not included as a qualifying condition in Colorado’s medical marijuana program, Azzariti was not able to legally obtain marijuana until Jan. 1 of this year, when recreational use was legalized there.
Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization, applauded Michigan’s announcement, saying, “Individuals who are exposed to traumatic events can suffer from PTSD, including veterans and victims of domestic violence.”
Noting that PTSD can lead to severe depression, anxiety and insomnia, among other symptoms, he said, “In many respects, it can kick a person when he or she is down.”
“Thousands of victims across the country have turned to medical marijuana for help, and several studies support marijuana’s effectiveness as a treatment option,” he said. “Those who suffer from PTSD in Michigan can now speak freely with their physicians to determine whether marijuana is an appropriate treatment option for them.”
News of Michigan’s PTSD addition comes after the federal government gave preliminary approval to an FDA-approved study examining marijuana’s effects on combat veterans suffering from PTSD. The Drug Enforcement Administration still needs to sign off on the study and allow marijuana grown at a federal farm in Mississippi to be transported to Arizona, but it is expected to do so soon.