Effective immediately, New Jerseyans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are allowed to be prescribed medical marijuana in lieu of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs. Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) signed the bill into law last week.
“PTSD is a debilitating medical condition affecting the ability of the men and women who have served our country to lead normal lives,” Gov. Christie wrote in a statement.
It’s a much needed remedy to help a state with so many living with the disorder from the attacks on the World Trade Center towers in neighboring New York City. “Veterans – especially post-9/11 veterans – are the group most affected by PTSD,” said Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo. “The VA has stated that it wants each veteran to find the medication with the least amount of side effects that allows them the optimum level of independence. For many, medical marijuana is the drug that best fits that criteria and the only one to provide veterans with significant relief from the anxiety associated with PTSD.”
Introduced in January of 2016, it’s taken almost a year for the conservative, pro-war on drugs governor to add PTSD to the list of ailments that qualify for medical marijuana in New Jersey. Bill A-457/S-2345 was sponsored by Senators Nicholas Scutari and Joseph Vitale. Sen. Scutari, a Democrat and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it will keep patients from getting their medicine off of the black market. “We know that individuals with PTSD are using marijuana that they are getting from the streets and, unfortunately, they are at risk of purchasing a substance that may be laced with a dangerous additive and of getting a criminal charge,” said the Senator.
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law in 2010. Despite nearly six years in operation, there are less than a handful of dispensaries and fewer than 7,000 registered patients in the Garden State.
PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by a traumatic event such as a physical or sexual assault, childhood neglect or physical abuse, a natural disaster, exposure to combat, or other extreme or life-threatening events. Symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, uncontrollable thoughts about the event, emotional distress, physical symptoms, feelings of numbness or detachment, engaging in dangerous or self-destructive behavior, and experiencing suicidal thoughts.