The Colorado Board of Health voted down adding post-traumatic stress disorder to medical conditions treated by the state’s medical marijuana program 6-2 on Wednesday. The decision came despite moving testimony and the recommendation of the state’s chief medical officer, according to The Cannabist.
“It is our brothers and sisters who are committing suicide every day. We know cannabis can help. We’re not going to go away,” John Evans, director of Veterans 4 Freedoms, said at the board meeting. “We’ve legalized it. We’ll take the tax dollars from our tourists (for recreational marijuana) before we’ll help our vets.”
“Blood is on your hands,” a member of the audience shouted after the decision was announced. Obviously, some feel very strongly about this decision.
But the question for some is, in a state where virtually anyone of age can legally purchase marijuana, how much of a difference does it make what is technically treatable by medical marijuana and what isn’t? Can’t those suffering from PTSD just go buy a big and medicate themselves?
Yes. But that is kind of the point. They shouldn’t have to “self-medicate.” Not everyone suffering from PTSD has the same symptoms, and not every strain is effective at treating certain symptoms as others. “People are going to use it anyway,” Dr. Sue Sisley told the Associated Press. “This just provides better access to different strains under a physician’s guidance.”
PTSD patients may require other medications as well. And it’s important that their physicians be able to adjust other treatments according to the cannabis products their patients are ingesting (though certainly not all physicians are capable of that).
The added MMJ designation also allows patients to pay lower sales tax (10% vs. 20-25%) on their medicine and can give them access to a wider range of goods.
The decision was partly the result of some board members not seeing strong enough scientific evidence to support marijuana’s effectiveness in the treatment of PTSD, though evidence backing the treatment of other diseases allowed by the state, such as AIDS, are also somewhat lacking. Dr. Wolk suggested that the state revisit the question in four years, after two state-funded tests had produced more scientific findings.