Thursday, January 7, 2016

Senate Health Committee: Add PTSD to NJ's Marijuana Program

Testimony to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee
In support of S2898  
(Authorizes medical marijuana for qualifying patients with post-traumatic stress disorder)
December 21, 2015 

Access to marijuana therapy for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is literally a matter of life or death.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 22 veterans commit suicide each day* because PTSD is so poorly managed by traditional pharmaceuticals. Yet the VA continues to forbid even clinical trials of marijuana for our veterans.  Israeli Defense Force veterans, by contrast, who suffer from PTSD do have safe and legal access to marijuana therapy, and marijuana shows great promise in the treatment of this disorder. There is a large and growing body of evidence of marijuana’s effectiveness for PTSD.

Currently, 11 of the 23 states that allow medical marijuana include PTSD as a qualifying condition, but not New Jersey. 

Our veterans deserve the finest medical care available—indeed, all New Jersey residents do—even if that care includes marijuana.  In most of the U.S., no veteran, even one whose PTSD has been resistive to all known treatment, qualifies for marijuana therapy.  They do not even qualify for a clinical trial of medical marijuana.  In fact, no clinical trial of marijuana for PTSD has ever been done in the U.S. because of federal resistance.

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana –New Jersey (CMMNJ) is committed to efforts to add PTSD and other mental and emotional conditions to the New Jersey’s list of qualifying conditions as soon as possible.

Additionally, CMMNJ calls for the immediate start of case studies of medical marijuana involving one or more veterans—as well as non-veterans--with PTSD.  Licensed physicians can supervise these studies and submit summaries of the participants’ medical records before, during and after the studies.  The studies should be conducted with marijuana supplied by the State of New Jersey to qualified participants. 

It promotes nothing but useless pain to say more study is needed and then do nothing about the lack of studies. 

We owe these veterans no less.  Parades are one thing, but let’s work to actually help these vets.

Eventually PTSD will be a qualifying condition in New Jersey. The question is how long will veterans have to wait for effective medical treatment?  How many more suicides will it take before the state takes action on their behalf?

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc.
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618 (609) 394-2137

I am a registered nurse and I have practiced as an RN in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for 39 years.  I have a master’s degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University.

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization whose mission is to educate the public about medical marijuana.  

*US Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, “VA Issues New Report on Suicide Data” February 1, 2013

Research supporting use of cannabis to treat symptoms of PTSD

1.    Mashiah M, “Medical Cannabis as Treatment for Chronic Combat PTSD: Promising Results in an Open Pilot Study” Abarbanel Mental Hospital, Israel presented at Patients out of Time Conference, Tuscon (2012)
2.    Passie T, Emrich H, Karst M, Brandt, Halpern J, “Mitigation of post-traumatic stress symptom byCannabis resin: A review of the clinical and neurobiological evidence” Drug Testing and Analysis  (2012) 649-659
3.    Fraser G, “The Use of a Synthetic Cannabinoid in the Management of Treatment-Resistant Nightmares in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics 15 (2009) 84-88
4.    Pacher P, Baktaim Kunos G “The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy” Laboratory of Physiologic Studies, National Institute of Alcohol and Alcoholism,  National Institutes of Health (2006) 58 389-462
5.    Ware M, Wang T, Shapiro S, Robinson A Ducruet T, Huynh T, Gamsa A, Bennett G, Collet J-P“Smoked cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain: a randomized controlled trial” Canadian Medical Association Journal (2010) 182(14)
6.    Abrams DI, Couey P, Shade SB, Kelly ME, Benowitz NL “Cannabinoid-Opioid Interaction in Chronic Pain” Nature Publishing Group (2011) 90(6) 844-851
7.    Fusar-Poli P et al., “Distinct effects of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on neural activation during emotional processing”, Archives of General Psychiatry (2009) 66: 95-105
8.    Chhatwal JP et al., “Functional interactions between endocannabinoid and CCK neurotransmitter systems may be critical for extinction learning”, Neuropsychopharmacology (2009) 34: 509-521
9.    Chhatwal JP et al., “Enhancing cannabinoid neurotransmission augments the extinction of conditioned fear”, Neuropsychopharmacology (2005) 30: 516-524
10.  Lin HC et al., “Effects of intra-amygdala infusion of CB1 receptor agonists on the reconsolidation of fear-potentiated startle”, Learning & Memory (2006) 13: 316-321,
11.  Pamplona FA et al., “The cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN 55,212-2 facilitates the extinction of contextual fear memory and spatial memory in rats”, Psychopharmacology (Berlin) 188: 641-649, 2006
12.  Resstel LB et al., “5-HT receptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats” British Journal of Pharmacology (2009) 156: 181-189

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