It is now in the hands of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie whether people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will have the freedom to treat their condition under the state’s medical marijuana program.
On Monday, Senate lawmakers put their final seal of approval on a measure intended to add PTSD to the state’s list of qualified conditions. The bill had already been given the green light by the General Assembly, putting it on the high road to Governor Christie’s desk for a signature or veto.
The overall goal of the measure is to help the thousands of veterans with PTSD that are trying to function in normal society.
“For many veterans, the effects of PTSD are not always healed by time and can be lasting and profound,” said Democratic Assemblyman Tim Eustace in a statement. “When it comes to PTSD, medical marijuana holds the promise of providing significant relief as it does for many other illnesses and conditions that are not easily treatable with traditional medication.”
Although there is a lot of hope that Christie will step up and do the right thing by signing the bill, the Republican lawmaker has not exactly been on the proper side of the medical marijuana debate throughout his reign as the state’s governing hammer. In fact, earlier this year, Christie stood up against a proposal aimed at expanding the state’s medical marijuana program, even though it was projected to lower the cost of the treatment. He told reporters in April that he would not allow any such expansion effort pass while he is in office.
“The reason why it hasn’t gotten the response it’s gotten in other states is because ours is a truly medical-based program for only people who have true illnesses that require medicinal marijuana,” Christie said. “Other states have programs that are faux medical-marijuana programs that allow for recreational use.”
A report from the Associated Press indicates that the Christie Administration has not yet said whether the plan is to sign the bill or toss into the garbage. But considering Christie, who is being considered for Attorney General if Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s wins the November election, has said more than once that he would like to crackdown on statewide marijuana laws by enforcing federal prohibition, there is a distinct possibility that veterans, the group most commonly afflicted by PTSD, will continue to be forced down their path of self medication through booze and prescription painkillers.
Lawmakers say that would be a damn shame, considering that medical marijuana has revealed itself to be one of the strongest treatments in combating this debilitating condition.
“Veterans – especially post-9/11 veterans – are the group most affected by PTSD,” said Senator Vince Mazzeo in a statement. “The VA has stated that it wants each veteran to find the medication with the least amount of side effects that allows them the optimum level of independence. For many, medical marijuana is the drug that best fits that criteria.”
Unfortunately, while many states are now moving the include PTSD as part of their respective medical marijuana programs, there are still too many governmental controls on marijuana research to allow the scientific community to effectively explore the cannabis plant in terms of finding out just how it can help remedy the symptoms of this anxiety disorder – one that is said to plague more than 40,000 veterans across the United States.
There are concerns that Christie will use this lack of federally supported evidence as an excuse not to sign the PTSD bill.