After years of trials and tribulations concerning the issue of giving Colorado patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) access to the state’s medical marijuana program, it appears this group may be finally on the verge of getting their hands on the medicine they need.
On Tuesday, the Colorado Senate put its seal of approval on a measure aimed at allowing doctors to dole out medical marijuana recommendations to those people struggling with this severe anxiety disorder. The bill is now on its way to the desk of Governor John Hickenlooper, who has not yet revealed whether he will sign it into law.
Nevertheless, supporters of this reform seem hopeful that it is a done deal.
“I’m really excited to see this option being afforded to veterans because they really need this,” former Fort Carson soldier and founder of the Veteran Farmers Association Steve DeFino told KOAA News 5.
Although the primary focus of Colorado’s PTSD debate was giving veterans the availability of cannabis medicine; last week, the discussions over this issue were largely centered on the notion that the bill might somehow give kids increased access to pot.
That’s when a lawmaker introduced an amendment intended to impose a stricter set of rules with respect to underage PTSD sufferers. The change now requires anyone under 18 to get permission from a pediatrician, a licensed family doctor or child psychiatrist before participating in the program. This was the best compromise they could come up with after some of the more conservative legislative forces suggested amending the bill in such a way that bans minors with PTSD from using the program altogether.
While marijuana is fully legal in Colorado, making a variety of pot products available to anyone 21 and older, patient advocates argue that the high costs associated with the recreational sector prevent a lot of people with PTSD from going this route.
Many of these people are on fixed incomes and cannot afford the high taxes attached to marijuana at the retail level. Not only that, but some are even at risk of losing certain health benefits if they cannot prove their marijuana use is legitimate under the state’s medical marijuana law. These issues have driven a number of patients into the black market, while many others have been forced to simply do without.
“There’s a lot of guys that have run out of options, can’t afford recreational prices, and being able to allow medical as a qualifying condition is very huge for some people,” DeFino said.
Advocates tried for years to get the Colorado Department of Public Health to allow PTSD as a qualified condition, but they repeatedly refused.
If Governor Hickenlooper steps up and signs the bill, Colorado will join 15 other states in allowing PTSD patients access to medical marijuana.