Medical marijuana's rejection by health dept. for PTSD treatment could lead to lawsuit for hearing

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Brian Vicente.
Members of Colorado's health department held a hearing before deciding not to make Tourette's Syndrome a condition approved for medical marijuana treatment. But that wasn't the case with a petition involving post-traumatic stress disorder -- and Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente, who later this morning will lead a support rally for medical marijuana grower Chris Bartkowicz at the federal courthouse, is plenty angry about it.

In many ways, the health department's actions aren't a surprise. In an August interview with Westword, Dr. Ned Calonge, the state's chief medical officer, said the Tourette's petition was the first he'd received that included "any evidence of efficacy in humans -- and we're not going to add a condition on the basis of rat studies. There's no country in the world that approves medication on the basis of animal studies only. We need to have at least some shred of evidence from a good study that it's actually going to help humans -- do more good than harm."

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PTSD-petitioning veteran Kevin Grimsinger.
Nonetheless, the Tourette's petition earned a thumbs-down anyway. Afterward, Vicente told Westword that the then-pending PTSD petition would be "the real test -- how this department treats the suffering Colorado veterans who have applied to have PTSD added as condition that can be treated by medical marijuana. And if they turn a blind eye to these individuals, I think we're going to have some serious outrage."

What's Vicente's reaction now that his worst fears have been realized?

"It's a disappointment," he concedes. "I would have hoped the health department would have acted with more compassion toward our veterans. We filed this petition on behalf of a soldier who had his legs blown off stepping on a land mine in Afghanistan" -- Kevin Grimsinger. "He receives relief from medical marijuana, and we don't want him to be criminalized for doing so."

He adds, "I feel like this is just an absolutely arbitrary decision on behalf of the health department. I think they've allowed their prejudice to cloud compassion. They should have at least allowed for a public hearing, so we could hear from experts regarding this issue. And we're strongly considering taking legal action to have a fair hearing."

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