PTSD Sufferers Can Obtain Medical Marijuana Under Arizona Law Starting in January

Sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder can begin obtaining medical marijuana legally under Arizona law as soon as January.

Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, announced the decision today in his blog. PTSD patients and medical-cannabis advocates have been expecting a decision since last month, when state Administrative Law Judge Thomas Shedden ruled that PTSD should be deemed a qualifying ailment.

See also: -UA Study on Pot and PTSD Could Impact Arizona's Medical Marijuana Program -PTSD Sufferers Should Be Able to Use Medical Marijuana in Arizona, Says Judge

Humble denied a petition last December to add PTSD to the list of qualifying medical conditions for legal pot, based on his opinion that evidence of marijuana's effectiveness in treating PTSD was lacking. The decision was appealed, resulting in Shedden's June ruling.

Now, Humble says he agrees enough evidence has surfaced to validate the palliative care of PTSD with marijuana, as opposed to trying to treat the condition with marijuana. The difference is that in palliative care, the goal is to relieve the symptoms of a condition.

Today, Humble issued a "director's decision" to authorize the use of marijuana under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which was approved by state voters in 2010.

PTSD sufferers must document that they've been undergoing "conventional treatment" for the condition, then obtain the attestation of a certified physician and state certification before going shopping in the state's 80-plus legal dispensaries.

Patients may begin going through that process starting on January 1, 2015.

"This allows a few months for certifying physicians, dispensary medical directors, and dispensary agents to develop policies and procedures and educational materials required by our rules," Humble writes.

Click here to read the DHS director's blog.

Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, the group that brought the marijuana law before Arizona voters in 2010, had this to say about the decision: "This decision will alleviate the suffering of thousands of Arizonans suffering from this debilitating condition. If marijuana can improve the quality of life for veterans and others who have experienced traumatic events, we should allow them to access it. Those who suffer from PTSD deserve compassion and support, and it's great to see state officials have chosen that path."

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.