Arizona: State Senator Blocks Federally Approved Medical Marijuana PTSD Study
By Steve Elliott
The much-talked-about proposed federally approved study about using marijuana to treat military veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) made headlines when it got a green light from the federal FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services. It even passed the Arizona House of Representatives (the study would be done at the University of Arizona). But one Arizona State Senator, Kimberly Yee, a Republican from Phoenix, has stopped the study in its tracks.
The study, which organizers say is aimed at veterans suffering from PTSD who have not been helped by other treatments, would not be funded with state tax money, but rather through the sale of medical marijuana cards, reports Steve Krafft at Fox 10 News.
Senator Yee, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, the recipient of the bill, had a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday, but Yee said she would not let them consider the study.
Yee is ignoring the testimony of veterans like Ricard Pereyda, who served as a military policeman in Iraq and now suffers from PTSD. He says cannabis helps him cope with the disorder.
"There are a hundred scenarios in my head at any time and using cannabis quiets that; it allows me to go through my day being productive," Pereyda said.
The Arizona House bill which would have funded the study sailed through with a vote of 51 to 5, but Yee's opposition, as committee chairwoman, is enough to stop the bill. Veterans say they are bitterly disappointed.
"When they heard this week Kimberly Yee was refusing to allow this bill on her education committee agenda, they were astounded; they were angered," said Dr. Sue Sisley.
Senator Yee claims her biggest problem with the bill is she feels backers of the scientific study on PTSD "want to legalize marijuana." She said she'd rather spend medical marijuana card money on a public service announcement urging kids not to smoke pot; she's backed by fellow weed-hater Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk.
Yee claimed she hasn't been able to get in touch with her own Republican colleagues in the House.
"I actually have not heard from that sponsor to share what the issues are," Senator Yee claimed. Ethan Orr, the bill's House sponsor, is a fellow Republican. He was on an Arizona trade mission in Mexico on Wednesday.
But Senator Orr said Yee was the one who was difficult to contact.
"Both myself and numerous community leaders have reached out to members of the Senate regarding this bill, and Kimberly Yee is the only one who has not even returned my phone call, "Senator Orr said. "It is unfortunate for the democratic process that one person has chosen to not hear this bill."
Fox 10 News asked Senator Yee why she wouldn't just let the committee consider the medical marijuana PTSD bill and argue its merits, since it passed the House so overwhelmingly.
Yee did not answer the question.
Photo of Senator Kimberly Yee: Marijuana Policy Project