Should Combat-Related PTSD Be Treated With Medical Marijuana?

July 8 2010, 10:59 AM

More than 13,000 active-duty U.S. Army soldiers are unfit to fight in war because of an injury, illness, or mental stress, writes Politics Daily. That includes soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, a serious condition that can linger for years beyond a soldier's service. One such soldier is Kevin Grimsinger, a former Special Forces medic who served in Kosovo, the first Gulf War, and Afghanistan, where he stepped on a mine in 2001 and suffered many serious injuries as a result, including the loss of parts of both his legs (via CNN). In addition to pain, Grimsinger's PTSD can keep him up at night. So he smokes marijuana: "I don't smoke to get high. I smoke to take care of my pain and my spasms and to eat." Grimsinger, who can use marijuana legally because he has chronic pain, has petitioned Colorado health officials to also make PTSD a condition eligible for treatment under state law---for other veterans, whose war injuries are only mental. CNN quotes Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller, director of the Substance Abuse and Anxiety Program at the National Center for PTSD & Center for Health Care Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, who claims there's no evidence that pot helps PTSD.

Regardless, Brian Vicente, Grimsinger's attorney, tells Westword the petition is cautious on this point: "Petitioners don't have to incontrovertibly prove that medical marijuana is beneficial to everyone with post-traumatic stress disorder," Vicente says. "Just that it might help them." While the VA devises a possible policy for medical marijuana use, New Mexico remains the only state that allows its use for PTSD, notes CBS4.

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