Arizonans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder now qualify for medical cannabis recommendations in the state, according to a health department ruling Wednesday. This is the first time a condition has been added to the list since voters approved the program in 2010 and is a huge victory for Arizona’s large veteran population.
According Arizona Department of Health Services director Will Humble there is at least one study showing that cannabis can help with PTSD symptoms and that the study, combined with numerous of anecdotal accounts, was enough to sway his decision.
In order to access medical cannabis, PTSD sufferers must first have tried “conventional” treatments. It requires doctors to certify that is the case, a move that Humble says will prevent physicians from turning to cannabis first.
The change came after the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association filed a petition. Ken Sobel, ACNA spokesman, said the decision was the right one, but added that he may also fight the ruling due to the added restrictions on doctors.
“There is nothing in the rules that, once a condition is listed, it allows the (health) department to impose conditions,” Sobel tells the Arizona Daily Star.
This is the third attempt to get PTSD on the list. Previous efforts were shot down by Humble for not having enough scientific backing. This time around, Humble worked with the University of Arizona to identify studies.
Ironically, while PTSD is now a allowable condition, a major clinical study that would have looked at cannabis as a PTSD therapy at the University of Arizona likely will not move forward as the university last week fired the key researcher involved with the study.
Sue Sisley, formerly the assistant director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program at UA, was informed last week that her contract will not be renewed next year but was not given any reason in a letter from the interim dean of the College of Medicine. But Sisley says the reasons are pretty clear. She says it is because of her advocacy at the state capitol for medical cannabis research – particularly in PTSD treatments for returning military veterans.
“I have no formal proof,” she said at the time. But she said in April that Garcia “confronted me about my political advocacy. He claimed that he was ordered by (University) President Hart to learn more about my activities at the Legislature. He claimed that (Senate President) Andy Biggs had called President Hart to accuse me of somehow using university resources to attack his rising star Kimberly Yee.”