AZDHS Accepts Elements Caregiver Collective's Petition for PTSD’s Inclusion as a Debilitating Illness for Medical Marijuana Therapy

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New Treatment Hope for Patients Suffering from PTSD in Arizona

This is a great victory for those of us who suffer from this debilitating disorder. Now we can sleep, without fear of a terrifying nightmare, or constantly having to re-live the tragic event that had occurred in our life.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has confirmed that the petition to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a debilitating illness has met the state's requirements. Elements Caregiver Collective in concert with Compassion First Collective and Southwest Arizona Patient Alliance (SWAPA) presented the petition in January.

Most often associated with veterans who have been in active combat, PTSD can affect anyone who has suffered through a traumatic event. One in five veterans returning from Iran and Afghanistan are affected by PTSD.

Upon hearing the announcement, disability advocate and PTSD patient, Butch Williams said: “This is a great victory for those of us who suffer from this debilitating disorder. Now we can sleep, without fear of a terrifying nightmare, or constantly having to re-live the tragic event that had occurred in our life. This medicine will allow us to reset our thoughts, and understand how to get past what has happened to us. For those that suffer from PTSD, they know that controlling the anxiety and the thoughts that are constantly running through our head is exhausting to say the least; and medical marijuana allows for the anxiety to go away so we can take control of our thoughts.”

“Hopefully Arizona can become a national model for other states to consider adding this diagnosis to their medical Marijuana programs just as New Mexico has also successfully done,” says Dr. Sue Sisley, Asst. Professor, Arizona Telemedicine Program, U of A College of Medicine. Dr. Sisley's FDA-approved clinical study on the effects of medical marijuana on 50 veterans suffering from PTSD was rejected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which has a monopoly on marijuana that can be legally used in FDA studies. NIDA refused to sell any marijuana for the study, blocking it from taking place. According to Ingrid Joiya, co-developer of the Elements model, "Without approving studies such as Dr. Sisley's, the full palliative benefits PTSD patients can experience through MMJ therapy will remain anecdotal". In response to NIDA's refusal to provide medicine, the co-sponsors of the petition have agreed to work with Dr. Sisley as she conducts observational studies to collect data on PTSD patients.

There will be a public hearing where DHS will accept public comment on the petition:

May 25, 2012
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
State Laboratory Conference Room
250 N. 17th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Elements Caregiver Collective will be hosting a Patient Appreciation Fair on Sunday, April 15th, celebrating the first anniversary since the Department of Health Services began accepting applications. The fair will be held from 12-4:15 p.m. at Elements, 12620 N. Cave Creek Rd., Suite 1, Phoenix, AZ 85022. All patients and caregivers are welcome to share in the festivities. Free food, educational seminars and free meds will be distributed. Free registration at http://www.elementsaz.org.

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