Colorado Veterans Want Medical Marijuana For PTSD

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Photo: Patients Choice of Colorado
Kevin Grimsinger: “We’ve done our fighting. Don’t make us continue to fight.”

‚ÄčNumerous studies have shown medical marijuana to be effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition suffered by 20 percent of our returning veterans. Wouldn’t it make sense to make the best medicine available to those coming home from war?

Medical marijuana advocacy group Sensible Colorado and local veterans will hold a press conference and rally on Wednesday, July 7, to support adding PTSD to the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana authorizations in Colorado.

The rally coincides with the official submission of a petition to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to add PTSD.
PTSD does not qualify for medical marijuana use in Colorado. Veterans Administration hospitals won’t recommend cannabis for any use, and, by policy, threatens to cut off health care and benefits to veterans who test positive for using it.

“Veterans feel incredibly disrespected on this issue, especially at it relates to PTSD,” said Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access.
The petition is being filed on behalf of Denver resident Kevin Grimsinger, a retired Army sergeant who served in Kosovo, Operation Desert Storm and Afghanistan.
As detailed by Susan Greene in the Denver Post, Grimsinger, 42, suffers from PTSD related to stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan. He lost parts of both legs, broke his back in 13 places, shattered a shoulder and ribs and suffered injuries to several internal organs.
“I’d much rather these guys come home and smoke a joint than take pills or drink or beat up their wives,” Grimsinger said. “We’ve seen our battle. We’ve done our fighting. Don’t make us continue to fight: Fight for sleep. Fight for appetite. Fight to get out of bed in the mornings.”
Many scientific studies, including a 2007 paper in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, have found that marijuana can be an effective treatment for severe PTSD symptoms — a condition suffered by one in five of our soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a 2008 RAND Corporation study.
Despite such findings, earlier this year, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment actively lobbied members of the Legislature to oppose an amendment that would have allowed individuals diagnosed with PTSD to have access to medical marijuana, with a recommendation from a psychiatrist.
The New Mexico Department of Health added PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana patients in that state in 2009 after a recommendation of approval from an advisory board of eight medical practitioners.
The advisory board examined the evidence and determined that the use of cannabis by patients with PTSD could be a beneficial treatment option, if used in accordance with a recommendation from a psychiatrist.
WHAT: Press conference and rally to support medical marijuana access for PTSD patients
WHEN: Wednesday, July 7, 11 a.m.
WHERE: 4300 Cherry Creek Drive, South Denver (Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment)
With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is one of the largest marijuana policy reform organizations in the United States. For more information, visit www.mpp.org.
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