Medical marijuana for PTSD? 'It can break a panic attack pretty quick'

Medical marijuana for PTSD? 'It can break a panic attack pretty quick'
File - In this March 28, 2011, file photo shows a marijuana plant, in Portland, Ore. Medical marijuana advocates have a message for Democratic leaders and federal prosecutors with an eye on political office: Don’t mess with pot. Pushing back against the Obama administration’s crackdown on state medical marijuana programs, one of the nation’s largest pro-pot groups is claiming credit for the defeat of a former federal prosecutor in the Democratic primary for Oregon attorney general. As interim U.S. attorney, Dwight Holton called Oregon’s medical marijuana law a “train wreck” and oversaw efforts to crack down on pot shops and marijuana gardens that claim to be operating under the state law. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Medical marijuana supporters in Oregon are seeking to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that qualify patients in the state to use medical marijuana.

According to advocates, many people with PTSD are already in the state program because they have other medical conditions that allow them to legally use marijuana.

But supporters want PTSD to be recognized as a standalone condition as more veterans return home and struggle to resume their lives, The Oregonian reports.

Oregon is home to an estimated 300,000 veterans. They include more than 20,000 from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, according to the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Two earlier attempts to add PTSD to Oregon's program have failed.

Law enforcement entities in the state generally oppose expansion of the program.

Medical marijuana's potential to help sick veterans deserves serious examination, according to Jason Hansman, senior program manager for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

"We treat it like any other new treatment technique: We want to see it studied. We want to see increased research to see if it's a viable solution," said Hansman, whose group represents 145,000 veterans.

Darryl Inaba, director of clinical and behavioral health services at the Addictions Recovery Center in Medford, opposes expanding Oregon's medical marijuana program to include PTSD saying the drug "causes both physical and emotional addiction."

For some veterans, medical marijuana helps them function.

Jared Townsend, a 27-year-old Iraq War veteran, said the drug helps him sleep and "balance life out a little bit better."

Townsend, of Hillsboro, qualifies for medical marijuana because of severe pain from a ruptured disc and injured shoulder from his 2007-08 combat tour. Medical marijuana is a bigger help with his PTSD symptoms, he said.

"If I get racing thoughts and real worked up, it can break a panic attack pretty quick," Townsend said.

Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., have medical marijuana laws. Only a few, however, list PTSD as a qualifying condition.

In New Mexico, which legalized medical marijuana in 2007, the state's Department of Health said 40 percent of medical marijuana patients list PTSD as their qualifying condition, far more than any other condition.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press