AZCNA Denouces Colorado Decision Not To Add PTSD As Condition Treated By MMJ

AZCNA Denouces Colorado Decision Not To Add PTSD As Condition Treated By MMJ

By Daron Babin - July 17, 2015

A year-long battle waged by veterans in Colorado on behalf of PTSD victims – particularly thousands of military service members and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan – ended in defeat on Wednesday when the Colorado Board of Health (“CBOH”) refused to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a listed debilitating condition allowing PTSD sufferers the right to use medical cannabis to treat the condition.

Nurse Heather Manus, RN, the first certified cannabis nurse in the United States and President of the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association (“AZCNA”), a nurse’s education and patient support group, stated:  “This is a major step backward, not only for our veterans but for science itself.  Indeed, in every medical cannabis state surrounding Colorado – Nevada, New Mexico, and even Arizona – our veterans can legally receive medical cannabis to relieve the symptoms of PTSD.  Unlike the conventional medications used for PTSD, medical cannabis is a gentle plant therapy which helps in all aspects of the disorder – fear extinction, memory retrieval and stress mediation.”

Nurse Heather has been a medical director of a Santa Fe, New Mexico cannabis dispensary since 2010 and, as an in-home psych nurse there she frequently helped vets with PTSD to get off other harmful pharmaceutical medications that have serious side effects, and replace those with medical cannabis.

“In New Mexico, PTSD patients have had safe access to cannabis since 2009, and after 4 years and several thousand patients, there has not been one reported adverse effect from its use,” Nurse Heather said.

A panel of doctors and scientists in New Mexico unanimously added PTSD in 2009, and unanimously retained it in 2013.  Indeed, 13 states now approve medical cannabis for PTSD, and the last 5 states to consider it have added it or retained it. Until Colorado.

In 2013, the AZCNA filed a 109 page petition with the AZDHS to list PTSD under Arizona law.  After the AZDHS limited witnesses to only 2-3 minutes to testify, and then rejected the Petition, the AZCNA appealed.  Following a 4 ½ day evidentiary hearing, an administrative law judge overruled the Department, and ordered that PTSD be added.

The AZCNA was represented by Attorney Ken Sobel who presented the testimony of several doctors, including the former Chairman of the US Olympic Track & Field Team Substance Abuse doctor, each of whom testified “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that cannabis was safe and effective in treating PTSD”.  In addition, dozens of articles published in peer reviewed medical journals supported cannabis, and no articles have been published indicating that cannabis did not help in treating PTSD.

As a result, the Arizona court ruled that the AZDHS abused its discretion in denying PTSD.

Sobel commented on the CBOH decision, as follows:  “The decision of the CBOH is shocking and disappointing.  All of the studies show that cannabis is safe and effective for PTSD and there are no studies that show the opposite.  Colorado voters never intended that a plant or its extract would require FDA-like studies when none are available due to the NIDA blockade.  Moreover, the most vulnerable people in our society – vets and women subjected to domestic violence or sexual abuse – will have to rely on dangerous pharmaceuticals that actually increase suicidal behavior.  With 22 veterans a day committing suicide and more than 30% returning from war with PTSD, this outcome is unacceptable.”

Nurse Heather also noted that she and Mr. Sobel offered to travel to Colorado at their own expense in order to appear and testify before the Board, subject only to being allowed to have 10 – 15 minutes to fully elaborate on the medical research and standards.  The Board, however, refused.

The AZCNA encourages all patriots to demand that the Colorado Legislature undo this terrible decision by immediately enacting legislation to add PTSD to the list of debilitating conditions.