Feb 022013
 February 2, 2013

Oregon Cannabis GraphicThe Senate Health and Human Services Committee is holding a hearing on Senate Bill 281, a measure that will add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition this Thursday at 1:30pm.  It is a shame that soldiers who have fought for our country, as well as anyone who has undergone immense trauma, should be denied a nontoxic medicine that can alleviate their severe stress and improve their livelihood.

New Mexico, Connecticut, California and Delaware all allow PTSD as a qualifying condition under their medical marijuana laws and studies have demonstrated  that cannabis many be an effective treatment for PTSD.  Anecdotal evidence certainly demonstrates cannabis’ effectiveness combating PTSD and, of course, government restrictions hinder scientific research.  Further, research has shown that standard pharmaceutical drugs are ineffective treating PTSD.

I am actually uncomfortable describing PTSD as a disorder, as reactions to severe stress, like seeing friends die around you in a war zone, are natural and should not even be considered a disorder, in my opinion. However, PTSD is the most-used term, so just as cannabis is often called marijuana, I will put my personal issues aside when I write about the condition, for the sake of clarity when discussing the issue with the general population.  The good folks at Patients Out of Time educated me on the issue.

Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD may more appropriately be referred to as post traumatic stress syndrome because it is the normal response to an abnormal stress.  This condition includes an assortment of symptomology including depression, anxiety, rage, insomnia, flashbacks of the event(s), and isolation.  Many PTS victims  (especially combat veterans or incest victims with a history of repeated traumatic incidents) have found that cannabis provides more relief than the commonly prescribed medications.  The discovery that the ECS is involved in the healing process of the mind to “forget” aversive memories seems to offer an explanation as to why it is helpful for this indication.

Military suicides are at an all-time high and tragically, many people suffer through horrific trauma all-too often, such as surviving rape or a mass shooting.  In fact, military suicides have become an epidemic and outnumber combat deaths.  If cannabis, a nontoxic medicine, provides relief for soldiers that risk their lives for us and for people who have undergone severe mental anguish, isn’t it just simply wrong for the government to threaten these citizens with criminal penalties for utilizingmental health problemsprevalent in our society such an effective medicine?  Do people really have more faith in current pharmaceutical treatments and standards of care, considering the ?

Michael Krawitz, director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, stated in a press release:

“Although many disabled by post traumatic stress are able to access medical marijuana under the heading of pain, it is disrespectful to those veterans to not allow them to honestly claim their primary medical condition.” Krawitz goes on to add that “nationally it would very helpful to know who the pain patients are, and who are the post traumatic stress patients are.This is something that would help a lot towards removing the stigma of seeking treatment for post traumatic stress and certainly can help save lives.”

The good news is that YOU can help Oregonians suffering with PTSD and, hopefully, more states will follow suit.  Cannabis law reform activist Cheryl Smith has started a Moveon.org petition that you can sign.  Also, you can contact the members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and urge them to support Senate Bill 281.  If you happen to be a constituent of one of the members, then all the better.  Oregonians can find out who their legislators are here.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee members and contact info:

Sen. Laurie Monnes-Anderson, Chair, D, Dist. 25:  503.986.1724Sen.LaurieMonnesAnderson@state.or.us
Sen. Jeff Kruse, Co-Chair, R, Dist. 1: 503.986.1701, Dist. Off. 541.582.3276Sen.JeffKruse@state.or.us
Sen. Tim Knopp, R, Dist. 27, 503.986.1727Sen.TimKnopp@state.or.us
Sen. Chip Shields, D, Dist. 15, 503.986.1722, Dist. off. 503.231.2564Sen.ChipShields@state.or.us
Sen. Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward, D, Dist. 17, 503.986.1717Sen.ElizabethSteinerHayward@state.or.us

My email to my state senator, feel free to use it as a template:

Senator Chip Shields:

As your constituent, I urge you to support Senate Bill 281, a measure that would add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.  Studies have demonstrated that medical cannabis can effectively help patients suffering from PTSD and that pharmaceutical drugs are often ineffective.

Veterans who have bravely served this country and other citizens suffering from severe trauma should not be threatened with criminal sanctions for utilizing a safe, nontoxic medicine recommended by their doctor.  Military suicides are at a record high and too many of our citizens are suffering from traumatic events such as rape and other violent attacks.  Please help them improve their livelihood.  Senate Bill 281 may even save lives.

I imagine that I am not alone among your constituents in supporting this compassionate measure and am confident that a strong majority agree with me.  Please support our veterans and other victims of severe trauma by supporting Senate Bill 281.

Please take the time to contact these legislators and let them know that veterans and other citizens suffering through severe stress from traumatic experiences should be able to utilize medical cannabis recommended by their doctor.  It is simply wrong to threaten criminal punishments against someone utilizing medical cannabis to alleviate their post-traumatic stress.  Let’s make a real difference in people’s lives, even save some lives and help the Oregon Legislature make the compassionate and smart choice to pass Senate Bill 281.

Republished with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition

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About Anthony Johnson

Anthony Johnson is the executive director of the Oregon Cannabis Industry Association and director of New Approach Oregon, the PAC working to end cannabis regulation for all adults in Oregon. In addition to helping organize the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, he also serves as a Board Member of the National Cannabis Coalition, working to legalize cannabis across the country and Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization specifically working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri.As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties.You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.