Originally published August 18 2015
Colorado health panel votes against will of the people and chief med director to keep vets drugged with pharmaceuticals instead of relieving PTSD with marijuana
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) For a state where voters recently chose to run afoul of federal drug laws and "legalize" recreational marijuana, this one truly is a head-scratcher.
As reported by Reuters and other sources, Colorado health officials have just tossed a bid by medical pot advocates to place cannabis on the list of approved treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, an ailment most commonly associated with military veterans.
That's odd for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is because voters in Colorado (along with Washington State) approved a measure legalizing recreational marijuana use in 2012.
But the decision is also baffling because research shows that marijuana use can relieve PTSD symptoms in some patients. In addition, the decision is odd because the state permits recreational use of pot.
Nevertheless, as Reuters noted, while state officials allow the use of medical marijuana for other conditions, they have refused three times to put PTSD on the list of approved ailments.
A similar proposal last year failed to pass the state Legislature.
"They're smoking it anyway"Mark Salley, a spokesman for the Colorado Board of Health, said the panel voted 6-2 to reject a PTSD petition seeking to include the ailment as one of the "debilitating" conditions accepted by the state as treatable with medical pot.
As you might have guessed, not all Coloradans approved of the board's decision.
"In my opinion, the board sent a message to patients that they just don't matter," Teri Robnett, director of the Cannabis Patients Alliance and member of a board advisory panel that recommended the inclusion of PTSD, told Reuters.
But board members said the decision was based on sound science.
"We can't have physicians counseling people in favor of it because we don't have data to show it's correct," Jill Hunsaker-Ryan, one of the board members who voted no, told The Associated Press.
As further noted by the AP:
Colorado allows adults over 21 to buy recreational pot, with no doctor's recommendation needed. But medical pot is taxed at 2.9 percent, compared to at least 19 percent for recreational pot.
In addition, medical patients are allowed to possess twice as much marijuana - 2 ounces instead of 1 ounce.
In May the state had about 113,000 people on the medical marijuana registry; some 6,300 were under the age of 21.
Patients have to obtain a doctor's recommendation in order to utilize marijuana for medical purposes. The state allows its medical use for eight conditions including cancer and AIDS to the treatment of nausea and severe pain. The AP notes that more than 93 percent of patients currently on the medical marijuana registry list pain as their debilitating condition.
Dr. Larry Wolk, the state's chief medical officer - who is not a voting member of the Board of Health - told the AP he once opposed the use of pot to treat PTSD but has since changed his mind due to widespread reports and research indicating PTSD sufferers are claiming pain as their ailment in order to get medically approved.
"We'll take tax dollars from tourists before we help our vets"Since PTSD sufferers are obviously using pot anyway, Wolk said they would be better off if they could consult a physician "rather than self-medicating through the legalized (pot) program."
According to the Denver Post, a dozen veterans testified at a hearing before the board made its decision. All of them said cannabis had saved their lives.
Many of them said that the psychotropic drugs prescribed to them to treat their PTSD at VA clinics or other health facilities nearly killed them or otherwise robbed them of a useful life.
"It is our brothers and sisters who are committing suicide every day. We know cannabis can help. We're not going to go away," said John Evans, director of Veterans 4 Freedoms, the Post reported.
"We've legalized it. We'll take the tax dollars from our tourists (for recreational marijuana) before we'll help our vets," he said.
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