SALEM, OR — A bill that would expand Oregon’s medical marijuana program by adding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying ailments has advanced in the Senate.
The Senate Health Committee voted 4-1 Thursday to approve Senate Bill 281, which would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the definition of “debilitating medical condition” for the purpose of authorizing the medical use of marijuana.
Use of medical marijuana is currently allowed in the state for patients with certain debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV and AIDS.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that occurs in people who have seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.
Military veterans returning from combat often suffer symptoms of PTSD.
The committee referred the bill to the Senate President, Peter Courtney, who’s expected to send the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee next.
Chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, said she heard some compelling reasons during the public hearing why PTSD should be added to the state’s medical marijuana list.
The single vote against the measure came from Sen. Jeff Kruse, (R-Roseburg) who said he voted against the bill after his request that it be a part of a larger evaluation of the medical marijuana program was denied.
Republican state Sen. Brian Boquist introduced the bill on behalf of a constituent but said he didn’t have an opinion of the measure one way or the other. His constituent, Todd Dalotto of Philomath, said he sought the measure after state public health officials twice rejected requests to include PTSD in the medical marijuana program. Dalotto is a member of the Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana, a panel created by the Legislature to advise state officials.
“The lack of recognition of PTSD as a qualifying condition…has been one of our top complaints about how patients are underserved,” Dalotto said.
Michael Krawitz, director of a Virginia-based group called Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, said marijuana can help people suffering from PTSD find balance in their lives. Military suicides reached a record 349 last year.
“It’s not like we have a silver bullet in the medicine cabinet,” Krawitz said. “They’re struggling to treat these people.”