Veterans Push for Medical Marijuana PTSD Treatment

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The wounds of war are often far worse for soldiers emotionally than physically.

Those mental scars can linger long after they leave the battle field and return home.

“When I left Iraq, I was kinda in shambles. My nervous system was completely fried,” said Dan Jabs, a veteran.

Jabs now serves as peer support specialist and is an advocate for using medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

He was among those urging an Illinois state medical panel to include PTSD on an expanded list of uses for medical cannabis.

“The issues that I dealt with when I got back, the anxiety, the depression the insomnia, restlessness, hypervigilance, all those things, the VA’s approach was, ‘We’re gonna find a way to medicate you,’” said Jabs.

Treatment, he says, can just be a temporary band aid for many veterans.

But the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says there is no evidence that marijuana is an effective treatment for PTSD, and in fact, the VA says studies suggests that marijuana can be harmful to individuals with PTSD.

Adding to the problem is that in-depth research has been stymied by federal barriers.

Phoenix Dr. Sue Sisley plans to recruit vets with PTSD for a study on how smoked marijuana can help, but the DEA still needs to sign off on it.

“You can’t study this plant in an atmosphere of prohibition, and the problem is when PTSD is not added, you can’t study PTSD then because you’re asking PTSD sufferers to come out of the shadows and admit using the drug on the black market,” she said.

There was testimony at the hearing about the dangers of marijuana for treating PTSD, but in the end, the panel approved it.

The Department of Public Health still has the final say, and patients have to have a signed certificate from a doctor to be approved to use medical marijuana.

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