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Marijuana and PTSD: Veteran Sean Azzariti heartbroken but hopeful after bill's failure

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Sean Azzariti. See more photos and a video below.
Earlier this week, an effort to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions legally treatable by medical marijuana in Colorado failed -- a development cannabis advocate Brian Vicente described as "shameful."

Veteran Sean Azzariti offered emotional testimony in favor of the bill and admits to being frustrated that the effort fell short again, just as it did in 2010 and 2012. But while he's disappointed, he has new reasons for hope for a change in the future.

"They had me testify first, which was a little nerve-racking," Azzariti says of his Monday appearance before the House committee on State, Military and Veterans Affairs. "I tried to stay as even-keeled as I possibly could, but when you're testifying about something so personal to you, that you've been working on for years, it's hard not to get choked up."

Azzariti feels some committee members were open to his arguments, while others "were completely close-minded" -- and the latter group won the day. The measure, known as House Bill 14-1364, was voted down by a 6-5 margin.

The result "definitely broke a lot of hearts," Azzariti concedes, but it hasn't dampened his enthusiasm to fight for the issue, which he embraced after PTSD followed him home after military duties overseas.

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Azzariti seen in a photo from his Facebook page during his days in the Marine Corps
"I served in the Marine Corps from August 2000 to October 2006," he notes. "My primary duty station was in Jacksonville, North Carolina, but I deployed twice to Iraq -- first in Al-Qa'im and then in Al Asad.

"I wasn't an infantry guy kicking down doors," he continues, "but I was in charge of security for my base. I did a bunch of convoys from base to base and I was also in charge of making sure that no one coming onto the base was carrying bombs and ammunition." In Al Asad, for instance, "myself and my post were the last line of defense before you got to the airstrip, and with foreign nationals coming through all day, they could easily have gotten to the airfield and done some damage if we weren't there.

"We were constantly being mortared, constantly being shot at," he points out. "It was a very high-stress job."

Upon his return to the States, Azzariti says he "started to exhibit symptoms of PTSD. But when I went to see doctors, they really only treated the symptoms, not the core problem -- and they gave me ridiculous cocktails of medication. At one point, I was prescribed four-to-six milligrams of Xanax a day, four milligrams of Klonopin a day, thirty-to-fifty milligrams of Adderall a day and then a drug called Trazodone to help me sleep. At one point, I was taking thirteen pills a day."

When Azzariti continued to suffer from symptoms of PTSD, compounded by side effects from the medication he was gobbling, he grew concerned.

"I came to the realization that if I kept taking all of that, I wouldn't last too long. I wouldn't be functional. It was sending me down a really bad path."

At that point, Azzariti "started to research how cannabis might be beneficial to my PTSD, and I found a lot of anecdotes from veterans, rape sufferers and a lot of other kinds of people about how cannabis was useful to them." So, in 2008, he applied for a medical marijuana card -- and was turned down, because PTSD isn't deemed a qualifying condition in Colorado.

Continue for more of our interview with veteran Sean Azzariti about PTSD and medical marijuana, including a video.



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19 comments
Clara Madrid
Clara Madrid

Move to Colorado and buy all the weed you need and feel better. Our veterans should not be suffering.

Tessera Weiss
Tessera Weiss

that is to say, I like that you say it works, I do not like your trauma. That would be harsh.

Kate Meyer
Kate Meyer

Anyone against this is ignorant and fucking selfish. Everyone deserves a chance at a normal life.

Justin Stoner
Justin Stoner

yes...O go join the Military ..fight for freedom watch you friends die...then come home to pure communism and hate towards the American public..O dont get injured cause the people in your home land want you to have a drug test to get welfare....for you and yours....Wow...thanks government......and now this insurance sells man/dictator says that veterans can't own guns ..after this man fought a war some politician started... this regime is a disgrace to this country..mostly this obama guy.....So yes this government wants you on oxi-cottons only....

Kate Meyer
Kate Meyer

Not to mention now I can sleep!!!

Kate Meyer
Kate Meyer

I suffer from PTSD after finding my sister had hanged herself in my basement when I was just 10 years old. 20 years and countless medications, hospital stints and drug abuse I moved to Colorado and became a medical patient. The memories are still there, but for the first time in life the nightmares are gone, my constant anxiety is managed and I'm off all other drugs. MARIJUANA WORKS period.

John Wolfe
John Wolfe

Anyone, who is keeping any help from our veterans returning from Bush's disaster, is on the WRONG side

Suni Daze
Suni Daze

keep fighting !! And you can come and smoke with me anytime

Nancy Honea
Nancy Honea

Is it possible that they (feds)fear that if they say yes to veterans, and PTSD , all Vets in all 50 states would have a constitutional right to have access to this medication? Forcing rest of the nations states into compliance for our Vetrans Mental health? Making cannabis legal in all 50 states. Just a thought.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Boo hoo hoo, poor wittle soldier is too stupid to simply purchase some Recreational Pot.



jeremy343
jeremy343

This is why I would never serve in the military, fight for freedom only to get shat on back in the US of mother fucking A.

KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

I guess Azzariti was under the influence of the 64 scampaign thinking that voting yes on A64 was going to help vets get MMJ treatment for PTSD when he made this commercial?  


Too bad the language in the new PTSD bill made the GA believe they were amending the constitution, so they lost the one vote the needed to pass it.  This is unfortunate for everyone.  


Vague language IS what harms.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@KathleenChippi  ... the incompetent lawyers who write this defective crap should be disbarred for malpractice.


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