Medical marijuana should be okayed for vets' PTSD treatment, activists say
In 2010, Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente petitioned the Colorado Department of Public Health to add post-traumatic-stress disorder to the list of conditions that can be treated by medical marijuana. This effort not only failed, but it led to a public-relations disaster over untruths spoken by its symbolic backer. However, Vicente hasn't given up. At noon today, he'll lead a group repeating the PTSD request, and he hopes the results will be more positive.
More photos below.
His reasons for optimism?
"There have been more studies that have come out and shown that medical marijuana can effectively help those with PTSD," he says. "And we're also hearing anecdotal stories and reading in the newspaper about it. So we think the science is on our side.
"With the onslaught of veterans coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq with PTSD related to their service, we're hopeful that the cumulative growth in people suffering from this will force the health department to take a second look at it," he adds.
If the CDPHE does so, it'll mark a big departure from its past take on medical marijuana and post-traumatic-stress disorder. In March 2010, the health department actively lobbied against a bill intended to add PTSD to the treatable conditions roster. And the department declined to hold a hearing about Vicente's earlier petition, which made unwanted headlines related to Kevin Grimsinger, the poster boy for the request.
As you'll recall, Grimsinger was said to have lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan. But the Denver Post subsequently revealed that Grimsinger's military service ended ten years prior to 2001, when he claimed to have been horrifically injured by a land mine. Turns out his amputations took place following a Southern California car crash during which he'd been trying to take his own life.
At today's event, Vicente will be joined by three different veterans: Joseph Hatcher, a onetime Cavalry Scout with the U.S. Army; Robert Wiley, a retired Air Force major; and Wanda James, a past Naval officer and a familiar figure in the local medical marijuana community. And he stresses that all of these vets have been, well, vetted to make certain that none of them have Grimsinger-like skeletons in their closets.
"We've learned from the issue that happened last time," Vicente says. "And it isn't just about them. It's about helping the broader veterans' population in Colorado."
At the same time, though, he stresses the compelling nature of the speakers' tales -- particularly in the case of Hatcher, "a young man who served on the front lines in Iraq for years. He's going to be talking about his experiences there, and the resulting PTSD that he and fellow veterans suffer from -- and how medical marijuana can be used to treat that condition, even though currently its use is illegal under state law. That's what we're trying to change."
Page down to continue reading about PTSD, medical marijuana and today's event.