RI could add PTSD to conditions treatable with medical marijuana

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — “Post traumatic stress disorder is a very real psychological problem, particularly among our veteran community, and it’s our responsibility to provide them with treatment options that can alleviate their suffering,” said Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Smithfield, North Providence and Johnston) in a news release Monday.

Archambault has introduced a bill, now before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, that would add PTSD to the list of “debilitating medical conditions” that may be treated with medical marijuana in Rhode Island.

A Veterans Administration report cited by the General Assembly’s press office says nearly 30 percent of veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms of PTSD can include anxiety, flashbacks and depression.

A 2015 study at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions said marijuana may be helpful in treating depression that results from chronic stress. But study co-author Samir Haj-Dahmane said their research is still preliminary — and “there [was] still a long way to go before we know whether this can be effective in humans.”

The General Assembly press office cites a study that showed patients who smoked cannabis “saw an average 75 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms.”

The bill would accelerate approving a patient for medical marijuana within 72 hours of the application if he or she is eligible for hospice care.

More than 10,000 people in Rhode Island carry medical marijuana cards, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health, and use the drug to treat conditions like cancer, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease.

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