New York State Accepts PTSD as Medical Cannabis Qualifying Condition

On Veterans’ Day 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo celebrated the day by demonstrating the state’s support and appreciation for the service provided by military veterans from New York. Among other bills that he signed into law that day, he authorized a bill allowing post traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for treatment with medical marijuana in the state. According to Governor Cuomo, “Our veterans risked their lives in order to defend the ideals and principles that this nation was founded upon, and it is our duty to do everything we can to support them when they return home.”

Medical Cannabis Qualifying Condition

Legislation which had gone through both houses of the State Legislature earlier in 2017 made it clear that there was bipartisan support for the measure, and that making it the law of the land would be a foregone conclusion. The measure passed the Assembly in May by a count of 131-8, and in June it passed through the Senate by a count of 50-13. It is thought that approximately 20,000 New York state residents would qualify for medical marijuana on PTSD grounds, since the bill also includes police officers and survivors of domestic violence, crimes, and severe accidents.

Sign of Medical Marijuana’s Effectiveness

Passage of the bill is seen as an acknowledgment of how effective medical marijuana can be in the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions, with PTSD being the latest in New York. The head of the New York State Council of Veterans Organizations, Mr. Bob Becker, applauded the Governor for the approval, noting that this would make medical cannabis one more tool in the arsenal which could be used to combat the effects of post traumatic stress. Without this legal approval, it has been conjectured that many suffering veterans would have had to turn to the illicit black market to obtain cannabis for relief of PTSD symptoms.

This approval makes New York state the 28th in the U.S. to recognize PTSD as a condition which qualifies a person for medical cannabis, leaving only Alaska among the 29 states allowing medical marijuana, as the lone state to not recognize PTSD as a qualifying condition. However, approval in Alaska is not really necessary, since the state has already legalized adult use marijuana, so anyone who wants to buy cannabis as an adult is free to do so legally.

How Medical Marijuana Helps PTSD Patients

Those who suffer from PTSD often experience symptoms ranging from anxiety, insomnia, and hyperactivity, to an inability to cope with ordinary day-to-day activities of life. The profound stress associated with either a single event or prolonged exposure to multiple events causing psychological trauma, can appear long after the sources of stress have been removed, and these symptoms must then be managed in order for the patient to have some level of quality of life. A federally sanctioned study is currently underway to research the effects that smoking cannabis has on managing PTSD symptoms, to add to the body of available information on the effectiveness of medical marijuana.