Good News For Veterans Wanting To Use Medical Cannabis To Treat Their PTSD Symptoms

Veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms received a bit of good news when Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin announced he was open to expanding the use of medical marijuana to treat soldiers with PTSD.  Although there are still federal laws in place that would limit the ability to use medical cannabis, with this announcement it could now be possible to take action in states that have embraced the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes legally.

This recent change in viewpoint by Secretary Shulkin came about based on his acknowledgement that there may be some evidence that medical cannabis may indeed be helpful in treating Veterans suffering from PTSD.  He further went on to say that he is interested in additional research with the hopes to learn more from it. While at the same time, he cautions that until federal law changes the VA may not actually prescribe marijuana as a form of treatment or therapy even if it appears that it does indeed help alleviate the PTSD symptoms.

post-traumatic stress disorder

One ally in the fight to legalize the use of cannabis to treat PTSD is the American Legion.  Touted as the largest Veterans organization, the American Legion has been painstakingly pressuring the Trump administration to make cannabis available for further medical research.

In fact, in a recent article posted by the Legion in Defense One on the topic of medical cannabis, the following information was provided, “many Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans have contacted the American Legion to relay their personal stories about the efficacy of cannabis in significantly improving their quality of life by enabling sleep, decreasing the prevalence of night terrors, mitigating hyper-alertness, reducing chronic pain, and more,” wrote Joe Plenzler and Lou Celli, two Legion officials. It also could help fight opioid abuse, they added.”

It’s powerful statements like that which have thrust the use of medical cannabis as a viable form of treatment and therapy for PTSD sufferers in the limelight. Furthermore, the article went on to cite a finding from the Congressionally mandated National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which stated that there was conclusive proof that cannabis was in fact effective in treating chronic pains, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasms.

Evidence such as this strongly supports the notion that medical marijuana could help treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the symptoms associated with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) both of which are the leading causes of death and disability within the Veteran community. One bit of good news in support of everything the American Legion is attempting to do is the first carefully monitored clinical trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness of smoking marijuana to treat PTSD in Veterans.

This study is the very first of what hopes to be many trial runs designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of using marijuana to manage symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in United States military Veterans.

The emphasis of the study, which was funded by a two million dollar grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, is also centered on the careful uses of marijuana and will closely examine the safety and effectiveness of four separate levels of marijuana potency in 76 Veterans. The hope is that the study will generate enough quantifiable data on cannabis dosing, composition and side effects, and the potential benefits of using it to treat PTSD.

After more than four years devoted to developing the study protocol and garnering federal approval, the trial was given the green light. It is now being carried out in two different locations with trials taking place in Phoenix, led by Dr. Sue Sisley, and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, led by Ryan Vandrey.

Volunteers participanting in the study must be adult military Veterans who have experienced trauma during military service. Each will undergo 17 outpatient visits to one of the study location clinics in a 12-week period, with a follow-up visits in six months.

In an even stronger motion designed to help Veterans who suffer from PTSD, Colorado lawmakers passed a bill that added PTSD to its list of conditions eligible for treatment with medical cannabis.  As a result, Veterans (and anyone else for that matter) who suffer from PTSD can now walk into a medical dispensary and get the treatment they need—instead of hoping for treatment as was previously the case at a recreational dispensary.

The treatment does come with some stipulations before it can commence. In order for a doctor or medical physician to be able to administer and treat the patient, a full assessment of the patient’s medical history, including reviewing a previous diagnosis for a debilitating or disabling medical condition and current medical condition, must be completed before the patient can actually apply for the required registry identification card.

The doctor must also be able to provide follow-up appointments to the patient in order to determine and document the efficacy and results of the use of medical cannabis as a form of treatment for PTSD symptoms.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

And Colorado isn’t the only state taking this new stance on the treatment of PTSD with medical cannabis.  At least 15 other states allow people to use medical marijuana to treat PTSD.

With so much uncertainty and new regulatory guidelines coming out on the positive effects of using medical cannabis as a form of treatment and therapy for PTSD symptoms, it can be a confusing situation.

With that in mind, here at Operation Compassionate Care, we understand and recognize the need for accurate and updated information and pledge to do our best to continue to provide valid information when it comes to properly and safely treating our Veterans for PTSD using medical cannabis as a treatment source. For any additional information or if you have any questions in relation to medical cannabis and its use in the treatment of PTSD, please don’t hesitate to send us an email, and we will respond in a timely and professional manner.