Tuesday December 10, 2013
Oregon Veteran Activist Wants PTSD Added to Medical Marijuana ProgramTim King Salem-News.com
A meeting in Portland Thursday will address the issue and proponents hope to see a large turnout of Veterans.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - An Oregon man is trying to change the rules for medical marijuana patients, allowing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to be included among the relevant conditions that allow a doctor to authorize the use.
The state of Oregon has a chance to help veterans, reduce legal and court cost, and step forward in line with California, Canada and Israel in accepting that cannabis is a usable treatment and sometimes smart option for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Activist Ed Glick and Attorney Lee Berger, are attempting to demonstrate to Oregon's Department of Human Services how and why allowing PTSD to the list of acceptable conditions will benefit veterans. U.S. jails and prisons are packed with war veterans on minor drug charges, which include marijuana.
The government sends them into horrible combat conditions that scar them for life. Then, these vets seek relief with the age old stand-by, marijuana, and that same government that sent them into harm's way, jails them for using something 100% natural that has never claimed a life in all of history.
It is a hard break for veterans, who possibly would not have served their nation with honor and courage if they knew what waited for them on the other side.
For those who don't know, PTSD is a condition frequently experienced by combat veterans and other survivors of traumatic circumstances. It is complicated, misunderstood, and comes on a scale of one to ten which the government skims over. Veterans either have PTSD or they don't under the current system. In reality it is far more complex.
PTSD can be managed under a wide ranging variety of treatments and therapies, though sufferers carry it for life. It is the after affect of negative experience. PTSD sometimes has a delayed onset.
For the U.S. government, which has created hundreds of thousands of cases of this disorder with repeated combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, PTSD is a money issue.
The answer from the Veteran's Administration is to prescribe hard morphine-based addictive drugs to veterans which many say, turns them into vegetables. Other veterans turn to alcohol and some to other illicit drugs. And yet others are told they don't have PTSD by under-qualified VA clinicians who often have only a textbook education about the disorder.
Many PTSD combat veterans commit suicide. PTSD can be a real killer, for the sufferer and sometimes those around them. Over 58,000 Americans were killed during the Vietnam War, yet more than a hundred thousand have committed suicide since the war. Anything that brings this number down will make America a better place.
If anyone needs proof, there are hundreds of thousands of combat vets who use marijuana to maintain their senses while relieving the symptoms of PTSD. It allows a person to gain an appetite, sleep, and achieve a mellow type of intoxication that is almost never associated with violence, unless it is used in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs.
Glick says the process they are using to amend the OMMP is tried and true. Described in ORS 475.334, the same type of panel met in 2000 and implemented a successful change of policy.
"The end result of that deliberation was the inclusion of 'Agitation Related to Alzheimer's Disease' to the list of qualifying conditions of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act," Glick said.
Alzheimer's Rage was the last addition to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, but Glick, Berger and thousands of other Oregonians hope the state now adds PTSD and removes one more barrier in the fight for veterans to regain normalcy in their lives.
Glick says the petition's intent is to revisit psychiatric diseases or mood symptoms and/or diseases in light of nearly a decade of additional research.
"The addition of much new research, in combination with increasing patient experience has greatly expanded understanding of the wide and deep mechanisms and effects of cannabinoid receptor binding. Societal changes have also cleared away some of the stigma associated with cannabis among legislative and medical leaders," he said.
Their team provided a large amount of data that contributes to the understanding of cannabinoid neurochemistry.
Glick says he intentionally submitted a large amount of evidence in order to impress upon the DHS that today, unlike in 2000, sufficient research exists to describe and explain patient experience. Thus, lack of “”credible” research is no longer a justification for disallowing these conditions into the list of qualifying conditions.
"The main psychiatric mechanism of herbal cannabis (and anandamide) on humans seems to be as a 'homeostatic regulator.' That is, it assists the nervous system suffering from extreme variability to reestablish a less excitable state through the blockade of extreme or disruptive nerve impulses."
He continued, "All of the psychiatric research seems to fulfill this basic premise. The release of endogenous cannabinoids, or the administration of cannabinoids from the plant, have essentially the same function. The major difference is the greater dosage of herbal cannabinoids compared to the 'dosage' of anandamide. In the same way that cannabis blocks painful nerve signals, it works to block psychically painful sign'als."
Glick cites how in the United States every year tens-of-thousands of deaths result directly from incorrectly prescribed or administered pharmaceuticals.
"The relative lack of toxicity of cannabis should be factored in to this panel‟s deliberations. Because of this relative safety, cannabis should actually be a first-line treatment for many of these conditions."
I can tell you from the hundreds and hundreds of emails that we receive from veterans, that marijuana works for them. it may not match the comfort level of every American, but that is beside the point. Most Americans who are squeamish over a plant being smoked surely wouldn't want to spend a minute in a combat zone. If veterans want to use marijuana, it seems like perhaps they should just be allowed to use it, at least under proper medical conditions.
DHS is, as expected, producing data that ties marijuana to depression and other problems and it is the same nonsense that the drug war has been cramming down American's throats for years. The main force against marijuana legalization are the insurance companies who want companies to force the degrading act of urine inspection and testing, and the pharmaceutical companies who all know their addictive and often deadly products are greatly threatened by medical marijuana.
A meeting in Portland Thursday will address the issue, proponents hope to see a large turnout of Veterans.
Those interested in attending the next panel hearing should go to the State Building in Portland, 800 NE Oregon Street, Thursday at 3:00 p.m.
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
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