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Medical marijuana for PTSD bill advances 

click to enlarge Wounded vet Steve DeFino holds jars of homegrown sativa bud. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Wounded vet Steve DeFino holds jars of homegrown sativa bud.

This could be the year when Colorado finally allows Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers access to medical marijuana. As the Indy has reported, this issue is especially near and dear to combat veterans who say that cannabis is a life-saving alternative to pharmaceuticals when it comes to healing the wounds of war. Legislative, administrative and judicial efforts to add PTSD to Colorado's list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana have previously failed, but a bill to get it done is currently advancing through the state capitol.

On Monday Jan. 30, the Republican-controlled Senate's State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 17, "Allow Medical Marijuana Use for Stress Disorders."

Ahead of the meeting, there was some confusion about the Legislature's authority to add a qualifying condition under Amendment 20, the constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana in Colorado. There are eight conditions enshrined in that amendment, and the ability to add more is expressly designated to the state health agency. Whether the Legislature can add a condition statutorily was a question resolved ahead of the Jan. 30 committee hearing by the chamber's in-house counsel, who issued an opinion saying essentially, yes, lawmakers can do this.

So, they'll try. The bill, brought by Sen. Irene Aguilar and Rep. Jonathan Singer, both Democrats, has the support of patients, veterans' groups and other trauma victims' advocates. Opposing the proposal are some in the medical community who say there's not enough clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of cannabis in treating PTSD (despite there being some studies out there and more in the works).

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