After years of hard work from veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been officially approved to be 1 of 9 conditions that qualify for Colorado’s medical marijuana program. Senate Bill 17 was signed into law on Monday by Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper and doctor’s may begin to recommend it to patients in as little as a week. It’s the first condition to be added to the medical marijuana program since it was created in 2001. Veterans have been working at this goal for many years and after a recent rejection from the Board of Health, a law suit was filed in the Colorado Appeals Court that is still pending.
The Urgency to Qualify PTSD in a Legalized State
While recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, patients argue that it is expensive to deal with buying the quantities needed in order to treat their condition. Another major factor is the fact that there are more treatment based strains offered in the medical marijuana dispensaries. Many patients may prefer the strains that are high in the non-psychoactive CBD compound and low in THC, the compound that causes mirage’s psychoactive effects. CBD compounds are very good for treating anxiety and stress and calming the nightmares and panic associated to the disorder and now Colorado patients will have access to these strains. After concerns for how the new bill could affect children and teens, it was decided that those who are under the age of 18 will need a recommendation from a pediatrician, family doctor or child and adolescent psychiatrist.
How Marijuana is Used to Treat PTSD
PTSD is a mental health disorder that develops in some people who experience or witness a shocking, scary, painful or traumatic event. It is characterized by feelings of anxiety, panic, paranoia, flashbacks and nightmares that can be triggered in the patient through a reminder of the event. Treatment usually includes antidepressants and psychotherapy. Antidepressants are highly addictive and can come with very severe side effects and it may take years of psychotherapy to make a significant enough breakthrough that would ease the PTSD in a suffering patient. Marijuana is able to very effectively treat PTSD symptoms without the side effects or physical addiction. It provides patients with instantaneous relief.
The Relationship Between CBD and Trauma Relief
Martin Lee, affiliate and director of Project CBD, a study conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies to understand PTSD and it’s relationship to cannabinoids, explained, “Researchers found that people with PTSD had lower levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid compound, compared to those who did not show signs of PTSD. Innate to all mammals, anandamide (our inner cannabis, so to speak) triggers the same receptors that are activated by THC and other components of the marijuana plant.” They determined that the normal CB-1 receptor allows people to forget and deactivate traumatic memories. Those with PTSD have impaired CB-1 signaling that is restored with the use of marijuana.
More research is needed in order to understand the disorder, the various strains and dosing in greater depth, but many are working towards this goal. For now, patients in Colorado will have access to relief for the debilitating symptoms caused by the condition.