ptsd marijuana cannabis
Medical Marijuana Policy

Arizona Senator Blocks Funding For Medical Marijuana PTSD Research

ptsd marijuana cannabisAfter 22 years of hard-fought efforts, the non-profit pharmaceutical company Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has finally obtained approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for a FDA clinical trial to examine the medical safety and efficacy of marijuana. The trial would study military veterans suffering from treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet the study’s ability to receive Arizona state funding is in jeopardy due to State Senator Kimberly Yee.

Arizona has collected millions of dollars from its medical marijuana program. Under Arizona’s medical marijuana law, that money is reserved for furthering the provisions of the law and should include research and education – but none of it has been spent. A bill being considered by lawmakers would give the Arizona Department of Health Services discretion to use some of this surplus funding to study the medical benefits of marijuana. On March 10th, the bill HB 2333, sponsored by State Representative Ethan Orr of Tucson, passed the Arizona House 52-5, with strong bi-partisan support. But State Senator Kimberly Yee (Phoenix), who chairs the Senate Education Committee, refused to put the bill on her committee’s agenda before the March 20th deadline – saying only that she wanted the funds to be directed for drug abuse prevention.

“This bill will help a lot of people. Not just combat veterans, but people with chronic illness and pain who can’t find relief anywhere else. Whether you are for recreational use or against it, we should at least know what marijuana does. It’s research – that’s all we are trying to do,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Ethan Orr.

HB 2333 would allow for protected funds, which currently total more than $6M and are collected through the sales of medical marijuana cards to qualified patients in Arizona, to be allocated for study in a university setting “with the intent to conduct thorough, objective clinical research on the safety, efficacy and adverse events with marijuana.” The study would support the Arizona economy, as it requires all studies to be conducted in state. The bill fixes a problem facing administrators of the Medical Marijuana Act who are restricted to using funds specifically in furtherance of the Act. HB2333 does not cost tax payers any money – rather, it would put existing money to work for the betterment of Arizona.

“Our study paves the way for research that could make marijuana into a federally approved prescription medicine for PTSD,” says MAPS executive director Rick Doblin, Ph.D. “We worked for 22 years to get permission to purchase marijuana from NIDA’s monopoly supply.  By refusing to consider HB 2333, Senator Yee is making it clear that she would prefer the research never to happen at all.”

Veterans like Ricardo Pereyda of Tucson, who fought in combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom 2, are angry that Senator Yee wouldn’t allow the bill to be heard in her committee. “Being able to treat multiple symptoms from post-traumatic stress with cannabis has been instrumental in my ability to lead a full and productive life,” said Pereyda, “Senator Yee is placing politics before science, and doing so at the expense of our combat veterans.” Pereyda served in the U.S. Army and Military Police Corps, and is the Veterans Liaison for Arizona NORML.

In response to this anti-democratic action by Sen. Yee, Pereyda is leading a coalition effort to bring veterans, military family members and other Arizonans who support medical marijuana research together at the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza on April 2nd from 5pm to 7pm. Advocates are asking for Arizona State Senate President Andy Biggs to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote, thereby bypassing the need for a hearing in committee.

WHAT:  A Rally in Support of Medical Marijuana Research for PTSD Treatment
WHEN:  Wednesday, April 2nd, from 5pm-7pm
WHERE: Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, Phoenix, Arizona

SPEAKERS:

  • Ricardo Pereyda, Iraq War Combat Veteran, Veterans Liaison for Arizona NORML
  • Former State Representative, Ruben Gallego, USMC Veteran
  • Scott Cecil, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Arizona State University
  • Heather Manus, RN, Arizona Medical Cannabis Nurses Association
  • Retired Lieutenant Police Officer Tony Ryan, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
  • Dr. Sue Sisley, University of Arizona, Principal Investigator of PTSD Study

Dr. Sue Sisley of the University of Arizona, who is the principal investigator of the proposed study, is also frustrated with the inaction of Senator Yee. “Twenty-two veterans a day are killing themselves,” said Dr. Sue Sisley, “They’re not benefiting from conventional medicine. And while many are using marijuana to help them with this debilitating disorder, they want it to be legitimized. They want data. They want to know what doses to take. They want to be able to discuss this with their doctors. The Obama administration is hearing this, because allowing us to do this study does represent a major shift in policy.”

“Cannabis medicine is natural, gentle, non-toxic, and should be available to PTSD sufferers in Arizona,” said Heather Manus, president of the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association.  “Many PTSD patients in neighboring states are successfully finding relief of symptoms through the use of cannabis.” The AZCNA has filed a petition with the Arizona Department of Health Services on behalf of veterans and other PTSD sufferers to add PTSD as a debilitating condition under the state’s medical marijuana law.

“It is unthinkable that someone would stand in the way of medical research, particularly research could benefit military veterans, first responders, and victims of violent crime, yet that is precisely what Senator Yee has done by blocking HB 2333,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access.

“Our veterans put their lives on the line for this country, and now Senator Yee says that rather than pursuing every option to address the problems many of them face, we should instead force these proud soldiers into an illicit marketplace, and turn them into criminals for trying to make themselves whole. It’s a shameful way to treat our veterans, and worse, will force many not to pursue treatment at all,” said 36-year police veteran Lt. Tony Ryan (Ret), a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs.

“Senator Yee’s refusal to allow this medical research for veterans harms not just veterans and their families, but all Arizonans who have loved ones who suffer with post-traumatic stress,” said Jon Gettel of NORML.  “It’s an outrage to prevent this important research.”

Another supporter of this event is the Drug Policy Alliance’s Freedom to Choose campaign, which advocates for veterans’ access to medical marijuana. “Veterans deserve the freedom to choose the safest treatment for their debilitating conditions. When our veterans come home they deserve access to the medicine that works for them,” said Jessica Gelay, who is the policy coordinator for DPA’s New Mexico office and the coordinator of the Freedom to Choose campaign. “It is unconscionable that research that could help prevent the needless deaths of men and women who have already sacrificed so much would be blocked by one lawmaker.”

Source: MAPSmake a donation

  • Bic

    I sure wouldn’t want to be the one to disappoint the black ops boys.

  • prayforbetterdays

    Typical politician. Sits her ass on a chair all day only interested in self and funding bullshit programs which will in turn bring her more money. Marijuana should be the least of her problems, all these pharmaceutical pills are killing people by the millions. Deny help for those that serve our country and to those who put your bitch ass there in the first place. Go to hell yee, worthless.

  • firetheliberals

    Of course, senator yee probably has a vested interest in drug rehab or asian gang distribution of weed..

    • Jetdoc

      She does take money from LEA’s, Beer & Wine Distributors of AZ, Corrections Corp of America (private prisons) as well as LEO Unions.

      • The truth

        Bingo…there’s your answer right there. That and she’s a narrow minded asshole.

  • Jetdoc

    I’ve done my part. I’ve called Sen. Yees office and now written Senate President Andy Biggs. (the ONLY person who can now get this bill a vote) To me it’s unconscionable for these people to divert the $6M that came from patients fees in purchasing their MMJ cards, to “ANTI-CANNABIS Groups”. Instead, Ms Yee told me personally, “… there’s already enough $$$ being spent on PTSD research. She wants to spend this money on education.” However, it’s ANTI-Cannabis education she’s funneling this money to. After she told me she “…wanted it to go to education.” I inquired as to isn’t the University of Arizona an Educational institute? MAKE YOURSELF HEARD!

    • wowFAD

      Keep at her, my friend! She represents the Phoenix area, so make sure everyone in the Phoenix area knows Kimberly Yee doesn’t care about soldiers.

  • JIMMYLIMO

    With the tragic shootings at Ft Hood in Texas yesterday by a veteran who suffered from PTSD, Kimberly Yee and has BLOOD on her HANDS ! How many deaths will it take, Senator Yee, before you stop blocking this critical research ???

    • Jetdoc

      That shower did NOT suffer from PTSD. He never even saw combat. He was a truck driver that did 2 tours in the Mid East. He WAS suffering from mental problems ( depression, anxiety, sleeplessness) but NOT PTSD. However, we’re playing semantics with that term PTSD. It’s the too numerous to guess amount of soldiers, sailors and airmen who ARE suffering from diseases and ailments they obtained while VOLUNTARILY FIGHTING FOR THEIR COUNTRY. We need to do everything POSSIBLE to help these people. NOT take $$$ that WOULD fund research to BENEFIT these people and give it to groups that OPPOSE AZ’s Medical Marijuana Act

      • harry

        I think you need to do some research about IED’s and military convoys, ie truck drivers

        • Jetdoc

          I’m just telling you that HE was not even close to ANY combat situation according to his C.O. Whether IED’s are a problem or not they weren’t for HIM. He got pissed off because ADMIN REFUSED to give him Leave of Absence paperwork and told him to come back tomorrow we’re Open. Then he went and got a .45 from his car and started shooting.

          PTSD is a real problem with our veterans. I AM ONE! But putting this one CRAZY FUCKER i in the category with vets suffering from PTSD is just flat wrong. I don’t care how you slice it.

  • Dave_K

    Sen Yee is head of the education committee in Arizona. She is not a supporter of the public schools. She made certain that Arizona has the lowest per pupil expenditure of any other state in the nation. By her own actions it is clear that she ranks veterans and Hispanics below that of our school children. This woman is an uncivilized and barbaric prohibitionist who along with Montgomery, Kavanagh, and Polk intends to block any progress with medical marijuana in Arizona. They actively conspire to keep this medicine from those who would benefit, including children who risk death without it. Montgomery continues to lose cases in his attempt to overturn the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act that was a voter passed initiative as he continues his jihad to spend our tax money to keep us safe from medical marijuana. Legalization of marijuana threatens their trough of drug war money. They are addicted to the flow of this money in a far worse manner than any who suffer from marijuana dependence. These are despicable people who do not value our diversity in Arizona and who would rather see it legislated out of existence. Yee would give a clearer indication of her intentions by burning books and that would suit her well. You would think if they were really worried about this plant that they would want to know more about it. This group does not use evidence from the real world to make their decisions. They do not want to allow others to obtain any information that could contradict their position. When these people make decisions not based upon real world evidence they are using a belief system that is more akin to witchcraft than it is to science. They seek profits for private prisons and they want to insure that they are filled with Arizona marijuana users. Kavanagh even tried to give private prisons $960,000 of taxpayer money that was not even requested recently. This group does not respect the people in Arizona and they are not worthy of our trust.