Veterans celebrate access to medical marijuana
Those living with posttraumatic stress disorder can now purchase medical marijuana – even without an OK from a psychiatrist.
Gov. John Carney signed the bill in July, but held a ceremonial signing Thursday to highlight its purpose and benefits.
He was joined by a group of veterans including Kimberly Petters. Petters was in the Air Force for 10 years, where she was in charge of human remains missions. That led her to develop posttraumatic stress disorder, which she was honorably discharged for.
“When I did eventually go to the doctor, the first thing they did was prescribe medications," Petters said. "And before I knew it I was taking five or six medications at a time. Some of them, the side effects were worse than what it was actually supposed to be helping.”
She’d heard of cannabis helping other veterans.
“And I thought – I’ve got nothing to lose, so I tried to get a card and I saw how hard it was to get a card," said Petters.
She waited eight months for a psychiatrist to sign off on a card granting Petters legal permission to take medical marijuana. She hopes this legislation – which removes the requirement of a psychiatrist signature - will help other veterans like herself.
Marc Garduno with the National Legislative Committee for Veterans of Foreign Wars voiced his support for the bill.
“It’s critically important that if there are plausible, alternative courses of medication that they be explored," said Garduno.
Several other states – including New Jersey – also allow prescriptions of medical marijuana for PTSD.
The legislation opens the door for others living with PTSD – not just veterans – to gain access to cannabis. Fe Echavarria has PTSD because of sexual abuse she experienced as a child.
"I didn't realize until about 24 years that I had PTSD," said Echavarria. "I went through a lot of issues growing up and nobody really knew what was at the core of it."
She's tried a variety of different medications but says cannabis - recommended by her psychiatrist - worked best for her, and is the least addictive.
Other conditions - including generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder and society anxiety – were initially included in the same bill, but removed after pushback from medical groups.