Pubdate: Wed, 15 Nov 2017
Source: Journal News, The (NY)
Copyright: 2017 The Gannett Company, Inc.
Author: Natasha Vaughn, Albany Bureau


ALBANY - New Yorkers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
will now be able to use medical marijuana as a form of treatment.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law Saturday that added PTSD to the list of
conditions eligible for medical marijuana in New York.

"As of today, marijuana will be legalized if a doctor authorizes and
finds the condition of PTSD for a veteran, and I think that can help
thousands of veterans. It's something that we've been talking about
for a long time, and I'm glad we're taking action," Cuomo said.

Often associated with military veterans, PTSD is a medical disorder
that can occur after a person experiences, witnesses or was threatened
by something traumatic, life-threatening or violent, according to the
American Psychiatric Association.

Symptoms can include nightmares, flashbacks, aggression, intrusive
thoughts, distress and insomnia, the group said. It can also be found
in firefighters, police officers, survivors of rape, domestic violence
and accidents, experts said.

New York is now the 23rd state to allow PTSD to qualify to be treated
with medical marijuana.

After a sluggish start, New York's medical marijuana program has
expanded the conditions eligible to receive the drug and the number of
medical professionals who can prescribe it. The program started in
January 2016 and does not allow smokeable forms of the drug.

PTSD is the 12th medical condition eligible to use medical marijuana
in the state. The state Health Department added chronic pain to the
list of illnesses in March.

Chronic pain led to a spike in the number of medical-marijuana
patients in New York. The program has about 1,300 registered
practitioners and 35,000 patients.

State officials estimated about 19,000 New Yorkers living with PTSD
would benefit from the use of medical marijuana.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves of two
different drugs to treat PTSD.

Marijuana groups supported the change.

"No one should have to leave the state to have access to a treatment
that might help them have a better quality of life," Landon Dais, the
political director for the Marijuana Policy Project of New York, said
in a statement.

The measure was one of several bills Cuomo signed on Veterans Day. New
York has about 770,000 veterans, Cuomo said.

Others included allowing combat veterans employed by the state to take
additional days off to get health services; waiving application fees
for veterans taking a civil service exam; and requiring the state to
maintain a public list of all not-for-profit corporations that solicit
funds on behalf of the armed forces.

Another bill signed into law directs the state to place a POW/MIA
chair and plaque in the state Capitol.

Cuomo also announced that new service branch-specific license plates
are available for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines.

"It's not only an honor for the veterans who would have the license
plate, but something that all New Yorkers can appreciate and thank
them for," Cuomo said.
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