Arizona OKs Medical Marijuana For Patients With PTSD

ARIZONA: Thousands of Arizona veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will soon be able to obtain marijuana legally.

State health director Will Humble decided Wednesday there is at least one study showing the drug can be helpful in treating the symptoms of PTSD. He said that, combined with some anecdotal evidence, provides what he needs under Arizona law to allow doctor with a qualifying patient to recommend the drug.

But Humble said he is approving the drug for use only to help patients deal with the symptoms of PTSD. He said there is no evidence that marijuana can be useful to actually treat or cure the condition.

Humble placed one other limit on doctors: Before they can recommend marijuana to deal with PTSD symptoms, they must first attest the patient has been undergoing more conventional treatments. That would require doctors to first try something else rather than simply using marijuana as the first choice.

Marijuana Study Backed By Feds Delayed After Researcher’s Firing

ARIZONA: As legal marijuana expands in the USA, with recreational sales starting Tuesday in Washington state, a first-of-its-kind pot study approved by the federal government is hitting a snag.

A researcher who received federal approval to study medical marijuana’s effects on veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome was terminated from her university position, further delaying the long-awaited research.

Dr. Suzanne Sisley’s termination, effective Sept. 26, means her research could be postponed by at least 1-1/2 years until she is appointed at another university and passes another university’s review process, Sisley said in an interview with USA TODAY Network.

It has already taken her four years to get the federal government to approve her study, she said.

“We were on the cusp of finally implementing this study and helping veterans answer the question of what role marijuana can play in treating PTSD,” Sisley said.

Arizona Health Officials Have Last Word On Medical Pot For PTSD

ARIZONA:  The Arizona Department of Health Services has until July to accept, modify or reject a ruling saying post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers are eligible for medical marijuana use.

Last December, state health department Director Will Humble denied adding PTSD to the list of qualified diagnoses for cannabis use. Medical marijuana advocate group Arizona Cannabis Nurse Association appealed that decision, and Administrative Judge Thomas Shedden has sided with them.

“Judge Shedden took a compassionate approach and was willing to listen to both patient experience and physician experience, and that is why this judgement is so sensible…because he is doing the right thing by our veterans,” said Sue Sisley, a doctor and lead researcher of a University of Arizona study looking into medical marijuana and its effects on PTSD patients.

For years, she said, veterans with PTSD have been turning to cannabis to manage their symptoms.

“They have been using the plant successfully,” she said. “Unfortunately, because of the fact that it is illegal in the state to utilize marijuana for PTSD, these vets continue to function in the shadows…”

Arizona Court Rules On DUI Law For Marijuana Users

ARIZONA:  Authorities can’t prosecute Arizona motorists for driving under the influence of marijuana unless the person is impaired at the time of the stop, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in the latest opinion on an issue that several states have grappled with across the nation.

The ruling overturned a state Court of Appeals decision last year that upheld the right of authorities to prosecute pot smokers for DUI even when there is no evidence of impairment.

The opinion focuses on two chemical compounds in marijuana that show up in blood and urine tests — one that causes impairment and one that doesn’t but stays in a pot user’s system for weeks.

Arizona Medical Marijuana Supporters To Rally For Veterans With PTSD On April 2

ARIZONA:  On March 10th, the bill H.B. 2333, sponsored by State Representative Ethan Orr of Tucson, passed the Arizona House 52-5, with strong bi-partisan support.  Under Arizona’s medical marijuana law, the money in the medical marijuana fund is reserved for furthering the provisions of the law and should include research and education.  None of it has been spent. H.B. 2333 would give the Arizona Department of Health Services discretion to use some of this surplus funding to study the medical benefits of marijuana.  State Senator Kimberly Yee (Phoenix), who chairs the Senate Education Committee, simply refused to put the bill on her committee’s agenda before the March 20th deadline.

“This bill will help a lot of people. Not just combat veterans, but people with chronic illness and pain who can’t find relief anywhere else. Whether you are for recreational use or against it, we should at least know what marijuana does. It’s research – that’s all we are trying to do,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Ethan Orr. [Read more…]

Arizona State Senator Putting End To Marijuana Study Bill

ARIZONA:  A Phoenix Republican lawmaker is using her power to single-handedly kill a House-passed bill that could provide the necessary funds to finally have a study of possible beneficial effects of medical marijuana.

Sen. Kimberly Yee acknowledged Thursday she will not give a hearing to HB 2333. That House-passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Ethan Orr, R-Tucson, would provide a use for the estimated $6 million the state Department of Health Services has accumulated in fees from medical marijuana patients and dispensaries. [Read more…]

Could Arizona Legalize Marijuana? Two Groups Want Issue On Ballot

ARIZONA: When Scott Cecil wound up facing a felony charge for possessing marijuana for his own use, he started to think the so-called war on drugs was targeting the wrong people.

“It really made me realize there are hundreds of thousands of people per year that are arrested for marijuana and other drugs,” he said. “They haven’t committed any violent crimes, they aren’t selling drugs, they’re just using drugs recreationally.”

Cecil, a student at Mesa Community College and board member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, is part of a larger movement to legalize marijuana in Arizona. He and other activists with Safer Arizona, a grassroots marijuana advocacy group, are trying to collect enough signatures to put a legalization initiative on the November ballot.

Dennis Bohlke, treasurer for Safer Arizona, said Arizona would be a safer place if marijuana were legalized.

“We think it’s safer than alcohol, and we find it outrageous that people are being jailed and being labeled as felons,” he said.

 

Arizona Poll Shows Growing Support For Legalized Pot

ARIZONA:  Arizona voters may be ready to follow the lead of Colorado and Washington residents and make marijuana use by anyone legal.

A new statewide poll shows 51 percent of those asked said the drug, now authorized for those with a medical need, should be made available to all, compared with 41 percent opposed.

Jim Haynes, president of the Behavior Research Center, said the numbers are little short of a sea change in public opinion.

He said that while this is his first statewide poll on the question, a 1974 national survey found legalization opposed by a margin of close to 3-1. Now nationwide numbers pretty much track what was found here, with 54 percent in support.

Some of this may be an increasing acceptance of what was once considered by many to be a dangerous drug.