PHOENIX >> A court ruling filed this week has added post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of debilitating conditions that qualify for medical marijuana treatment.
State Department of
Health Services Director Will Humble has until July 9 to accept, modify
or reject an administrative law judge's ruling that PTSD sufferers are
eligible for a medical marijuana registration card.
Humble said Friday that he would study the order before making a decision.
The Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association appealed Humble's denial last
December to classify PTSD as an ailment that could be treated with pot.
Humble said he initially denied the group's petition, citing a lack of
scientific evidence showing marijuana helps patients with the disorder.
Judge Thomas Shedden, however, said in his opinion that there was
substantial evidence that those with PTSD receive a "palliative benefit
from marijuana use." Shedden said medical professionals often rely on
patients' input for when making off-label prescriptions.
Pereyda was among those who testified at the hearing on how marijuana
can help with post-traumatic stress. The Iraq War veteran said
prescription drugs for his anger, depression and other issues only gave
him adverse side effects. It wasn't until he started using cannabis in
2010 that he felt happier and more focused.
Pereyda said he doesn't understand why Humble would take a month to make a decision.
"What is it that you need to wait and see before that day that you
haven't seen in the past four days? Get it done. People are dying. And
that's not just veterans," Pereyda said.
Having a medical marijuana card would also let veterans and other PTSD victims feel protected legally while seeking treatment.
"What if I got caught with an ounce or something like that? Under the
Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, I would have had a card and it would have
been perfectly legal," Pereyda said.
If Humble rejects the judge's ruling, the group can appeal to the Maricopa County Superior Court.
Eleven states currently approve medicinal marijuana for treating PTSD.
In April, veterans lobbied lawmakers to pay for a clinical study at the
University of Arizona that looks at the health benefits of medical
marijuana. Advocates say that pot needs to be studied to learn how it
might be able to remedy post-traumatic stress disorder. They say
legislation that would have enabled the state to use part of the fund it
receives from sales of medical-marijuana permits was unfairly killed in
The University of Arizona received approval
from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to conduct
long-delayed marijuana research that has been in the works for more than
two decades. The approval was an important milestone for the project,
but it still needs money from the state of Arizona to carry out the
research, along with approval from the federal Drug Enforcement