Lawmakers are moving closer to opening up access for medical marijuana treatment for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in New York.
The state assembly, controlled by a Democratic majority, overwhelmingly voted to approve a bill Tuesday, adding PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for treatment through the New York medical marijuana program. The legislation will move to the state Senate where it will face a Republican majority, however, the proposal is gaining favor among members of the GOP, reports New York Daily News.
States with medical marijuana programs are beginning to open access to the drug for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, under mounting pressure from veterans groups advocating marijuana as an alternative to opioids.
“20 percent, which I think is a low ball estimate, of our returning veterans have PTSD, and I’m sure that number is bigger,” Andrew Raia, a Republican state Assemblyman, said Tuesday on Spectrum News. “Anything we can do to ease their pain, ease their suffering and prevent suicides I think we need to at least try.”
A growing chorus of veteran groups are petitioning the government to ease restrictions on federal marijuana policy. Many are unable to get relief from painkillers or traditional treatments allowed under current federal law, leaving them at the mercy of their particular state’s policy.
GOP Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill last year allowing medical marijuana for the treatment of PTSD in New Jersey, which officials are currently working to implement in May. Of the 28 states with legal medical marijuana programs, 14 currently offer pot for treating PTSD.
Veterans suffering from PTSD are currently participating in the first clinical trial studying the efficacy of treatment with marijuana. Each participant will undergo treatment with marijuana over a 12-week period, with a required six-month follow-up. Researchers hope the results can give critical guidance to lawmakers in terms of future policy, specifically the treatment of veterans.
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