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UA Study on Pot and PTSD Could Impact Arizona's Medical Marijuana Program

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Since the beginning of Arizona's medical-marijuana program, people have petitioned the state health department to add post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for medical pot.

However, PTSD and other conditions aren't added to the list, due to a lack of scientific research on the risks and benefits of using marijuana to treat those conditions. But that might change.

See also:
-PTSD and Depression Denied as Qualifying Conditions for Medical Pot in Arizona
-Top Five Reasons Why PTSD Should be a Qualifying Ailment

Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported that a University of Arizona researcher has gotten approval from the federal government to study pot's effects on vets with post-traumatic stress:

For years, scientists who have wanted to study how marijuana might be used to treat illness say they have been stymied by resistance from federal drug officials.

The Arizona study had long ago been sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration, but under federal rules, such experiments can use marijuana only from a single, government-run farm in Mississippi. Researchers say the agency that oversees the farm, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has long been hostile to proposals aimed at examining possible benefits of the drug.

The L.A. Times suggests this might open the door to more pot-related studies.

Those who have supported adding more debilitating conditions to the medical-pot program in Arizona have seen that this lack of research is killing their efforts.

If a condition wasn't listed in the voter-approved law in 2010, citizens have to petition the state health department to get it added to the list.

(The list of qualifying conditions includes cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease, or any other medical condition or treatment that involves the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.)

Petitions for PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorders have been proposed several times, and dozens of members of the public have given testimony in favor of adding those to the list.

However, the Arizona Department of Health Services has had the University of Arizona's College of Public Health analyze the available scientific studies regarding medical-marijuana treatments for the disorders, and pass that information back to AZDHS.

The medical advisory panel at AZDHS said there was no evidence to support adding the conditions, because "marijuana has not been subjected to any high quality, scientifically controlled testing in humans for any of the petitioned conditions . . . "

Without the evidence, neither the panel nor the AZDHS director were in favor of adding the conditions to the list.

Perhaps that would change, pending the outcome of that UA research.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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