Releaf Magazine

New Jersey Assembly advances bill adding PTSD to medical pot list

The legislation would approve medical marijuana to treat PTSD, only if conventional therapy isn't successful


By The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. — The Assembly on Thursday passed legislation to allow qualified New Jersey residents with post-traumatic stress disorder to get medical marijuana for treatment.

The Democrat-led Assembly voted 55-14, with seven abstentions, sending the bill to the Senate for consideration.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who has been critical of marijuana legalization in other states, ignored advocates of the bill who asked him to sign the measure as he walked into the statehouse Thursday.

Jim Miller, the co-founder of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey and an organizer of a weekly pro-marijuana podcast on the statehouse steps, said he has asked the governor at least four times previously to support the measure, but Christie has never answered him.

Miller says he supports the bill to help veterans who are increasingly using cannabis even though it remains illegal in most states and isn’t approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs because major studies have yet to show it is effective against PTSD.

“They shouldn’t have to fight their government for the inherent right to health,” Miller said.

The legislation approves the disorder for treatment with marijuana only if it’s not treatable with conventional therapy.

Marijuana is currently approved in New Jersey to treat multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer and muscular dystrophy, among other medical diseases. It’s also approved for seizures and glaucoma if those conditions are resistant to conventional treatment.

The U.S. Senate passed an amendment in November that would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states where it’s legal. The proposal failed to pass the House.

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were over half way there!

John Kasich just legalized medical marijuana in Ohio. Now what?
Jessie Balmart,

COLUMBUS - Gov. John Kasich signed a plan to legalize medical marijuana into law Wednesday, making Ohio the 25th state to approve its use.

Those suffering from epilepsy, chronic pain and the side effects of cancer treatments could soon be able to treat their pain with marijuana. Despite years of delays and opposition, state lawmakers passed a plan in May to legalize medical marijuana for those with a doctor's referral. Groups working to place a rival medical marijuana proposal on the fall ballot put pressure on legislators, but ultimately dropped their efforts after the lawmakers approved a plan.

Kasich was quiet about whether he supported legalizing medical marijuana, saying only that he would follow doctors' recommendations and wanted to help children in pain. But he ultimately signed the bill, which will take effect in 90 days.

While medical marijuana will be legal in three months, it will take much longer to set up rules for growers, dispensaries and patients. So, what comes next?

How soon can I buy medical marijuana?

If they have a doctor's recommendation, Ohioans can purchase medical marijuana from other states where it is legal as soon as Sept. 6 and bring it back into the state. Then, the Department of Commerce will have about eight months to create rules for those who will grow marijuana. After that, cultivators will need time to start growing medical marijuana, and dispensaries will set up shop. Around that time, doctors must start applying to the Ohio State Medical Board for a certificate to recommend medical marijuana.

All this means Ohioans won't be able to buy medical marijuana in-state until 2017 or early 2018. Note: Once the Ohio system is set up, Buckeyes will no longer be allowed to bring in marijuana from other states.

What kind of marijuana can I use?

Here's the big sticking point for many marijuana advocates: Under this law, it's still illegal to smoke marijuana – even if you buy it out of state. Vaporizers, edibles and oils are OK.

It goes without saying: Recreational use of marijuana also is still illegal under this law.

Which medical conditions will qualify for medical marijuana?

AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn's disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, Parkinson's disease, positive status for HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette's syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis.

Who will grow the marijuana?

No one may grow medical marijuana at home or for personal use. But those who want to grow medical marijuana commercially must apply with the Ohio Department of Commerce. They cannot grow marijuana within 500 feet of a school, public playground, church, public park or public library. Those with certain criminal convictions are disqualified from growing marijuana.

Who can recommend it?

Physicians who are certified by the State Medical Board of Ohio. They could be disqualified from certification if they have a financial interest in growing marijuana, have lost their license to practice medicine or have been convicted of certain crimes. These doctors must attend at least two hours of training on diagnosing and treating conditions with medical marijuana.

Can I be fired for using medical marijuana?

Yes. Despite opposition from some Democrats, the law would allow employers to fire employees who violate office policies against marijuana use – even if the marijuana was recommended by physicians. If you are fired for marijuana use, you will not receive unemployment compensation either.

Can I vote on medical marijuana in November?

No. Several groups were interested in placing a proposal on the fall ballot, but each decided against it. The most prominent, Marijuana Policy Project and its local affiliate Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, dropped its bid just three days after senators passed the medical marijuana bill. The effort was too costly and unpredictable in a presidential election year.

"(T)he reality is that raising funds for medical marijuana policy changes is incredibly difficult, especially given the improvements made to the proposed program by the Ohio General Assembly and the fact that the Governor is expected to sign the bill," said Brandon Lynaugh, campaign manager for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, in a statement.

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Local Marine Brings Awareness to Overmedicated Veterans With Photography Project

A military veteran and student at the Art Institute of Philadelphia is using his skills as a photographer to protest the overmedication of our nation’s heroes.

Mike Whiter, 39, launched the photo project “Operation Overmed,” which features pictures of veterans, including Whiter, rejecting pharmaceutical options and using alternative treatments such as medical marijuana for their health issues.

Whiter told NBC10 he joined the Marines at the age of 19 and eventually became a Staff Sergeant. After the Iraq War, Whiter was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and was medically discharged. He went to a VA Hospital which placed him on medication.

“Over a period of five years I was on 40 different medications,” he said. “Everything from anti-depressants to anti-anxiety medication. At one point they had me on Methadone for chronic pain. I was 35 at the time.”

Wanting to find an alternative to the medication, Whiter started using medical marijuana after watching a documentary about it in 2012. Since then he hasn’t turned back.

“I felt more relaxed after one joint than I had after tons of combinations of pharmaceuticals,” he said. “I threw away my pills and my quality of life is better than it has been in years. I think it is very important to note that cannabis is not a cure for PTSD, but in combination with therapy, it can open a whole new world for you.”

Whiter also decided to pursue his passion in photography and enrolled in the Art Institute of Philadelphia. That’s where the foundation for his photo project took shape.

“I was having a hard time in the studio photographing subjects,” he said. “I have a hard time interacting with people sometimes. One of my professors said, ‘why don’t you shoot veterans? Then I decided to take it a few steps further and involve my activism.”

Whiter launched Operation Overmed in June 2. While the series so far has gotten attention from the medical marijuana community, Whiter hopes the project will reach a wider audience.

“I’m photographing people that use medical marijuana now because I’m a marijuana activist and I run in those circles so I know these people,” he said. “But I’m meeting other people who say, ‘Hey, I don’t use medical marijuana but screw the pill.’ The point is, all of these veterans have chosen alternative treatments whether its medical marijuana or acupuncture, yoga, I don’t care what it is. As long as they’re saying screw these pills, I want to do what’s right for my body. I’m taking my health into my own hands. And that’s what I want to show with these photographs.”

Whiter says his ultimate goal is to draw attention to the countless veterans who shared an experience similar to his own.

“Twenty-seven states report 22 veteran suicides a day,” Whiter said. “A lot of that can be attributed to the medications because guys with PTSD who are already suicidal are taking medications that have increased risks of suicidal thoughts or actions listed as a side effect. I was one of those guys. I was a slave. I was in my house stuck in my head for like five years man, just on all these pills.”

Whiter, who says the response to the project has been “overwhelmingly positive,” hopes his message will reach the average citizen.

“Veterans are overmedicated,” he said. “That’s the message that I really want to send out. The VA is killing the people who fought for this country and it’s not right.”

If you would like to participate in the Operation Overmed project, email Whiter at You can also visit his Facebook page and website for more information.


VIA NBC 10 Philadelphia 

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New Challenge to Federal Marijuana Ban Could Provide Relief to Thousands of Vets

by Gregory Krieg

A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers have drafted a powerful new challenge to the federal government's ban on marijuana.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), along with 10 of their colleagues, are co-sponsoring a bill that would give doctors the option to recommend medical marijuana to war veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans Affairs physicians are currently barred from offering any opinion on the potential effects of the drug to their patients.

The Veterans Equal Access Act would allow VA doctors to give recommendations and, in any of the 23 states that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, the discretion to fill out the appropriate legal forms. It's estimated that as many as 1 in 5 Iraq and Afghanistan war vets suffer from PTSD or depression.

"Post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury are just as damaging and harmful as any injuries that are visible from the outside," Blumenauer said, according to the Huffington Post. "Sometimes even more so because of the devastating effect they can have on a veteran's family. We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows."

The results of a clinical study published in May showed that patients experienced "an average of 75 percent reduction in all three areas of PTSD symptoms while using cannabis." This is tied to what doctors call "memory extinction," the normal "process by which our brain replaces older memories with new experiences."

Researchers, including renowned Israeli scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, now believe that "marijuana could help patients reduce their association between stimuli (perhaps loud noises or stress) and the traumatic situations in their past," as reported by Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.

"Conscience dictates that we not coldly ignore these desperate men and women, and that we remove government from its paternalistic stance between patient and doctor," said Rohrabacher, a California Republican who, along with Blumenauer, is also pushing for Congress to consider scrapping all federal prohibition laws.

While those efforts are unlikely to gain much traction on Capitol Hill, where legislators remain overwhelmingly opposed to mass legalization or decriminalization, this new bill demands a serious review by congressional leaders. Twenty-two American veterans commit suicide every day. If a trained physician believes that marijuana could save or aid a single one, then leaders from both parties should, with President Barack Obama's support, move to change the law now — or be forced the carry the shame of their inaction.



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Marijuana May Hold Promise As Treatment For PTSD

More than 5 million people suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) annually, and new research suggests that cannabis may help them find relief and may even offer better care than the current class of drugs commonly used to treat the disorder.

According to research published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the administering of synthetic cannabinoids to rats after a traumatic event can prevent behavioral and physiological symptoms of PTSD by triggering changes in brain centers associated with the formation and holding of traumatic memories.

The study adds to a growing body of research that "contributes to the understanding of the brain basis of the positive effect cannabis has on PTSD," the researchers note.

While cannabinoids occur naturally in the cannabis plant, this research was done with WIN 55,212-2, a synthetic cannabinoid that produces a similar, effect to that of THC, marijuana's main psychoactive compound. The researchers specifically looked at the effect of this synthetic cannabinoid on exposure to trauma reminders. Among individuals who suffer from trauma, it is common for non-traumatic events (for instance, sirens going off) to evoke the memory of the traumatic event, thus amplifying the negative effects of the trauma.

In the first part of the experiment, the researchers exposed rats to a traumatic event (electric shock). After the trauma, some of the rats were injected with the synthetic cannabinoid compound. On the third and fifth days of the trial, the rats were exposed to 'trauma reminders' which triggered memories of the electric shock. Then, the rats went through a trauma 'extinction procedure,' a process similar to exposure therapy, designed to help them cope with post-trauma symptoms.

The researchers found that after being exposed to the trauma reminders, the rats injected with synthetic cannabinoids did not exhibit PTSD symptoms such as impaired extinction learning, increased startle response, changes in pain sensitivity and impaired plasticity in the brain's reward center. The control group of rats who were not administered the substance, however, did experience these symptoms. The treated rats also fared better after the trauma reminders than a group of rats administered with the SSRI antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft), a substance which has been used in the treatment of PTSD with mixed success in reducing symptoms.

The researchers also determined the neurological basis for these behavioral effects. They found that among the rats who were exposed to trauma and trauma reminders, there was an increase in the expression of two brain receptors associated with emotional processing (the CB1 and GR receptors). The compound actually prevented the increase in expression of these two receptors in two brain areas involved in forming and saving traumatic memories, the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.

One of the study's lead authors, Dr. Irit Akirav, previously found a synthetic marijuana compound to be effective in reducing PTSD symptoms in rats if administered within 24 hours of the traumatic event itself. Now, Akirav's new research suggests that marijuana may also be an effective intervention at the later trauma-reminder stage.

While the research is preliminary, it does suggest that human trials should be conducted to examine marijuana's promise as a treatment option for PTSD.

"The findings of our study suggest that the connectivity within the brain's fear circuit changes following trauma, and the administration of cannabinoids prevents this change from happening," the researchers concluded. "This study can lead to future trials in humans regarding possible ways to prevent the development of PTSD and anxiety disorders in response to a traumatic event."

And in recent years, there has been an increase in focus on the potential benefits cannabis may have for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Nearly 30 percent of veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from PTSD, according to a 2012 VA report. Some scientists have suggested that marijuana may help PTSD symptoms, which can include anxiety, flashbacks and depression. In a recent study, patients who smoked cannabis saw an average 75 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms.
VIA Huffington Post

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Releaf Issue #42 Now Available!


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Federal Government Approves Study to Examine Medical Marijuana Treatment for PTSD Veterans

War artist Thomas Lea's The 2000 Yard Stare


After decades of seeking federal approval to conduct a study on the medical benefits of marijuana for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies has gotten clearance for their financially backed study.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Arizona, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011. Yet researchers were unable to purchase medical marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to conduct their experiments. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services finally authorized the University's purchase of the medical marijuana from the institute's Mississippi research farm.

The Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access has long been advocating the use of medical marijuana to treat symptoms of PTSD. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, Ph.D., of Israel discovered that the cannabinoid system is related to memory and memory extinction, which is important to those suffering from PTSD. These patients suffer from memories of their initial trauma, which could be solved through the use of marijuana. The THC in marijuana is believed to have the capability to reduce PTSD patients' association between stimuli and their traumatic memories.

After 22 years of seeking permission to purchase medical marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has finally been given the opportunity to do so. The researchers plan to test it on 50 veterans with PTSD to see if it alleviates their symptoms. However, they're still seeking one last approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration, which they expect to come quickly.

PTSD is believed to affect over seven million Americans, but only six states (New Mexico, Delaware, Oregon, Connecticut, Maine, and Nevada) list the disorder as a qualifying condition to receive medical marijuana. University of Arizona professor Suzanna Sisley is awaiting approval from the DEA so she can begin her study, which will measure the effects of five different potencies of smoked and vaporized marijuana in PTSD patients.


Via Science World Report

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PRESS RELEASE: Public Health Service Blocking FDA-Approved Medical Marijuana Research for PTSD

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and University of Arizona Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved protocol for a study of marijuana for symptoms of PTSD in U.S. veterans, sponsored by the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), has been on hold for over 3½ months, as researchers wait for the PHS to respond to their request to purchase marijuana for the study.

Download the press release.

WASHINGTON, DC – Thousands of veterans and other medical marijuana patients nationwide use marijuana to treat symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) is blocking researchers who are seeking to learn more about the risks and benefits of the treatment.

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and University of Arizona Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved protocol for a study of marijuana for symptoms of PTSD in U.S. veterans, sponsored by the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), has been on hold for over 3½ months, as researchers wait for the PHS to respond to their request to purchase marijuana for the study.

The study would explore the safety and effectiveness of smoked and/or vaporized marijuana for 50 U.S. veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. Animal studies have already shown that marijuana helps quiet an overactive fear system, but no controlled clinical studies have taken place with PTSD patients.

“This groundbreaking research could assist doctors in how to recommend treatment for PTSD patients who have been unresponsive to traditional therapies,” according to MAPS’ Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D.

The PHS marijuana review process exists only because the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-protected monopoly on the supply of marijuana legal for use in FDA-regulated research. This additional review is not required for research on any other Schedule I drug.

MAPS resubmitted a revised protocol on Oct. 24, 2013, after the original protocol was rejected by the PHS in September, 2011. Unfortunately, unlike the FDA, which must respond to submissions within 30 days of receiving them, the PHS has no such time limit. Meanwhile, the PHS is successfully preventing FDA and IRB-approved research from taking place.

PTSD is considered a life-threatening illness, as people suffering from PTSD are at increased risk of homelessness, drug abuse and alcoholism, and are more likely to commit suicide.

“If the PHS review requirement was removed,” says Dr. Sue Sisley, who would lead the study, “we would gather information that could help veterans today. The stifling of medical research on marijuana stands in the way of our vets returning to a normal life.“

Founded in 1986, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. MAPS is the only organization working to evaluate the safety and efficacy of botanical marijuana as a prescription medicine for specific medical uses approved by the FDA.


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Zen Healing: Veterans Get Free Marijuana At LA Dispensary With Proof Of Military Service


By Dennis Romero

Military veterans put their lives on the line for this country, and what do we give them? A couple hollow holidays? A discount? The occasional salute?

West Hollywood medical marijuana dispensary Zen Healing has us all beat on that front:

The pot shop announced that it's giving vets a true "gift of appreciation:"

Free weed!

That's right, in an announcement this week Zen Healing says it's giving up "a free quarter of high-quality medicine every harvest," which is every three months, to "veteran patients that provide proof of military service."

That free quarter every quarter comes with a nice glass jar, too.


At your service, sir.

The dispensary notes that there has been research investigating the effects of marijuana on PTSD patients.

Zen Healing says it's not all about weed, either. It says it sponsors a free barbecue meal for the homeless at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hollywood on Saturdays.

(Contacted by the Weekly, the church vehemently denies the dispensary has anything to do with its own homeless meal services).

There are 51,240 homeless people in L.A. County, at last count, and nearly 1 in 5 (18 percent) is a veteran, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

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Maine Medical Cannabis Program Expanded to Include PTSD, Other Debilitating Conditions

By Paul Armentano |  NORML Deputy Director

AUGUSTA, ME – Patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, Crohn’s disease, and other debilitating disorders will soon be eligible for cannabis therapy underlegislation approved last week absent the Governor’s signature.

The new law expands the list of qualifying conditions for which a Maine physician may legally recommend cannabis to include “post-traumatic stress disorder,” “inflammatory bowel disease” (such as Crohn’s and/or ulcerative colitis), and “dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders and other diseases causing severe and persistent muscle spasms” (such as Parkinson’s disease and/or Huntington’s disease). It is the second time that Maine legislators have acted to expand the pool of patients who may have access to medicinal cannabis.

The law takes effect in approximately 90 days.

Four states — Connecticut, Delaware, New Mexico, and Oregon — explicitly allow for the use of cannabis to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Clinical trial data published in the May issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry theorized that cannabinoid-based therapies would likely comprise the “next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”

Survey data published in 2011 in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology reported that the use of cannabis therapy is common among patients with inflammatory bowel disorders.

In May, researchers at the Meir Medical Center in Israel reported that inhaling cannabis reduces symptoms of Crohn’s disease compared to placebo in patients non-responsive to traditional therapies. Investigators concluded, “Our data show that 8-weeks treatment with THC-rich cannabis, but not placebo, was associated with a significant decrease of 100 points in CDAI (Crohn’s Disease and activity index) scores.”

Five of the eleven patients in the study group also reported achieving disease remission (defined as a reduction in patient CDAI score by more than 150 points).



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