Arizona PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) patients will be able to legally use medical marijuana in order to alleviate their symptoms thanks to a decision announced yesterday by Department of Health Services Director Will Humble. According to local sources such as KTAR Humble is reportedly adopting the findings of Judge Thomas Shedden issued in June. The order goes into effect on January 1, 2015.
Last December Humble declined to add PTSD to the list of illnesses that qualified for a medical marijuana card following a public hearing in which 700 citizens supported the idea to add the ailment and two opposed it. The Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association filed an appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings.
Shedden believes Humble misinterpreted state rules concerning the addition of medical marijuana to the list. He pointed out that 11 other states already permit the use of medical marijuana for PTSD. Furthermore, a significant amount of evidence was presented demonstrating that patients receive “palliative benefit from marijuana use.”
Heather Manus, president of Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association, still has concerns. She believes there’s only one reason it will take months to implement. She claims: “(Humble) is actually trying to modify the order.”
Humble’s decision specifically requires that doctors prescribing medical marijuana must certify that their patients are being treated conventionally for the illness. Medical marijuana may “only be prescribed to relieve symptoms”, not to treat them.
Manus said that medical marijuana can aid PTSD patients deal with anxieties, flashbacks, sleeplessness and “reduce all of these symptoms to a level where (the patients) can actually function in the world.” She told the press that her association has lawyers ready to “challenge any further delays.”
Tucson attorney Ken Sobel who previously argued the case, however, is initially pleased with the decision and stated: “We thank Director Humble for exercising correct judgment in this case.” According to Sobel, under a voter-approved 2010 law medical marijuana is already permitted in Arizona.
People with diseases such as cancer, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and additional “chronic or debilitating” diseases that meet legal requirements are allowed to purchase a maximum of 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks or to raise their own plants in specified areas. Sobel’s team has filed a request that Parkinson’s disease be added to the approved list as well.
He concluded: “The Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association filed this on behalf of primarily our senior citizens. Our focus is on trying to get these conditions added for the most vulnerable of our residents here in Arizona, such as the veterans in the case of PTSD and, which afflicts mostly people that are 60 years of age and older.”