Medical marijuana is now available for Michigan residents who suffer from post-traumatic stress, thanks to a decision by state officials.
Steve Arwood, director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, approved a recommendation from the state’s Medical Marijuana Review board that PTSD become an eligible condition under Michigan’s MMJ law.
Voters approved that law in 2008, and this is the first time it has been expanded to cover a new disorder. Arwood said he was hesitant to sign off on the change.
“First, the condition of PTSD is a mental health issue,” he wrote in a March 14 letter. “Granting this approval steps Michigan away from the use of marijuana for disease of the body or chronic pain symptoms of a physical nature.”
Arwood said he was also concerned his decision could expand access to marijuana for minors. Michigan allows some patients under 18 to obtain MMJ with strict oversight, but Arwood said he remains worried “that there may be insufficient evidence on the effect of marijuana on minors.”
Finally, he said, the decision to expand the law should not be in his hands.
“Given that the legislature is currently discussing several marijuana related topics, further legalization efforts belong with our elected representatives,” Arwood said.
Michigan’s MMJ law passed with 63 percent of the vote in 2008, and not a single county voted against it. It initially covered a number of physical ailments, from cancer and glaucoma to HIV/AIDS and chronic pain.
As part of the law, the state must review petitions to allow MMJ for new conditions. Arwood’s office set up a panel to handle reviews, but it wasn’t properly composed and was later disbanded, leaving him as the ultimate decision-maker.
Proponents of medical weed praised Arwood’s move.
“Thousands of victims across the country have turned to medical marijuana for help, and several studies support marijuana’s effectiveness as a treatment option,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Those who suffer from PTSD in Michigan can now speak freely with their physicians to determine whether marijuana is an appropriate treatment option for them.”
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that afflicts about 7 percent of the population. It strikes those who have experienced severe trauma, especially combat veterans, survivors of sexual abuse, and others who have survived imminent personal threats.
Several other changes to Michigan’s medical pot law are under consideration in the legislature. One would allow dispensaries to operate across the state again; a Michigan Supreme Court ruling shuttered them last year.
Another change would make it easier for landlords to ban pot smoking and cultivation on rented property. And a third would add edibles and topical applications to the list of legally usable marijuana products.