Marijuana: Amendment 64 backer says measure would help vets with PTSD

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As backers of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, ramp up their campaign by way of events like yesterday's unveiling of a pro-marijuana billboard, members of the medical marijuana industry are debating whether the measure would lead to doom or a boon. The latter, argues an Amendment 64 proponent -- by, among other things, allowing potential patients denied access to MMJ, including vets with PTSD, to use the substance.

"I think it's going to be a really positive move for medical marijuana patients, many of whom currently don't qualify for medical marijuana under our current law -- most remarkably those with post-traumatic stress disorder," says Brian Vicente, who also heads up the advocacy organization Sensible Colorado. "Once we pass this law in November, they will be able to access marijuana to treat their condition or to use it more broadly."

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Brian Vicente.
Back in July 2010, Sensible Colorado petitioned Colorado's board of health to add PTSD to the list of conditions that can legally be treated by medical marijuana. The person put forward as the face of this effort, Kevin Grimsinger, turned out not to be the best spokesperson: That September, Grimsinger admitted that he'd falsely claimed to be an Afghanistan veteran whose legs had been blown off by a land mine. But even before this revelation, the state health department had rejected the petition without so much as holding a hearing, much to Vicente's chagrin.

PTSD sufferers aren't the only potential patients barred from including cannabis in their treatment regimen. "The health department doesn't recognize any mental conditions as qualifying for medical marijuana," Vicente points out.

In his view, that's a shame. "At Sensible Colorado, we've heard from folks with all sorts of medical conditions who find relief from marijuana -- most commonly from vets with PTSD. And those individuals currently face criminal prosecution if they're found with marijuana. So we want to make sure that rule is abolished, so they can acess this substance once we pass the law."

Whether the passage of Amendment 64 would do the trick is an open question. After all, the military branches, as well as veterans hospitals that serve retired soldiers, are part of the federal system, which will continue to view all marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic whether voters give the proposal a thumbs-up or not. But as the MMJ industry struggles against local bans, accusations of doctor fraud and another wave of seizure-threat letters to dispensaries near schools, Vincente sees the act as offering some important options to entrepreneurs.

"It's really going to be a business opportunity for these pre-existing licensed medical marijuana businesses if they choose to apply for a license and sell to a broader adult market," he allows.

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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Will Kevin Grimsinger's false stories hurt MMJ campaign for PTSD?"

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