LANSING, MI — Michigan residents suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder can now qualify for treatment under the state’s medical marijuana law, which is expanding to include a new condition for the first time since voter approval in 2008.
Steve Arwood, director of the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, has signed off on a PTSD recommendation from the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review panel, which includes the state’s top medical executive.
But he did so reluctantly.
“PTSD is a mental health issue,” Arwood wrote in an official letter dated March 14. “Granting this approval steps Michigan away from the use of marihauna for disease of the body or chronic pain symptoms of a physical nature.”
Arwood also expressed concern that he was put in the position to make a decision about expanding the law.
“Given that the legislature is currently discussing several marihuana related topics, further legalization efforts belong with our elected representatives,” he said.
Michigan’s medical marijuana law, as approved by voters, includes several conditions that can qualify a patient for certification including cancer, glaucoma, HIV and other debilitating diseases causing chronic pain, nausea or seizures.
The law also requires the state to accept and review petitions for new qualifying conditions. LARA set up a review panel last year but had to disband it due to faulty composition, which invalidated previous recommendations.
PTSD is a severe form of anxiety disorder often diagnosed in military veterans exposed to the horrors of war. It is also common among sexual abuse survivors and others who have experienced the threat of injury or death.
Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the national Marijuana Policy Project, celebrated expansion of the Michigan law.
“Thousands of victims across the country have turned to medical marijuana for help, and several studies support marijuana’s effectiveness as a treatment option,” Lindsey said in a statement. “Those who suffer from PTSD in Michigan can now speak freely with their physicians to determine whether marijuana is an appropriate treatment option for them.”
The Michigan Legislature continues to consider several changes to the medical marijuana law. The Senate recently approved legislation that would give landlords greater ability to prohibit growing or smoking the drug on their private property.
The House has approved bills that would allow for the return of regulated dispensaries and expand the definition of usable marijuana to include edible and topical products in the wake of limiting state court rulings.
Jonathan Oosting is a Capitol reporter for MLive Media Group. Email him, find him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter.
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