New Mexico: Medical Marijuana Access For PTSD Patients Is Protected
By Steve Elliott
After months of deliberation, the New Mexico Department of Health on Tuesday upheld a recommendation by the Medical Cannabis Program’s Medical Advisory Board and announced that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will remain a qualifying condition for New Mexico’s medical marijuana program.
Patients’ access to medical marijuana under state law was threatened by a request to withdraw PTSD as a qualifying condition for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program after Dr. William Ulwelling, a retired psychiatrist in New Mexico, submitted a formal request to the state's Department of Health requesting PTSD be removed from the list of eligible medical conditions for enrollment in the state’s medical marijuana program.
During her 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Gov. Susana Martinez (R) vowed to repeal New Mexico’s medical marijuana law.
“Although today patients suffering from PTSD can breathe a sigh of relief, we will not rest until the Martinez Administration continues to demonstrate, as they did yesterday, that they will not turn their backs on all medical marijuana patients, including veterans, patients with disabilities, and victims of trauma and violent crime,” said Emily Kaltenbach, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office.
“New Mexico's military veterans and victims of serious trauma and violence deserve the freedom to choose the safest treatment for their disabling conditions," Kaltenbach said. "They deserve access to the medicine that works for them.”
More than 3,700 New Mexico residents with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are actively enrolled in New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program. Most of them are military veterans, patients living with disabilities, and victims of serious trauma and violent crime.
"When I returned home from Afghanistan I was diagnosed with PTSD," said Michael Innis, who served in the military and who was awarded a Purple Heart after the convoy he was traveling with got hit by an IED and was then ambushed. "I worked with my doctor and tried many prescription drugs.
"Taking handfuls of pills every day, every one with a different set of side effects, was hard on my body, and I still experienced some symptoms," Innis said. "Cannabis was not my first choice of medicine, but I can tell you firsthand, this medicine works for me. Cannabis allows me to leave my house and has helped me to return to work."
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is an organization of people who believe the War On Drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.