TRENTON, N.J. — Veterans and others in New Jersey are waiting on Gov. Chris Christie to decide whether they’ll be allowed to legally treat their post-traumatic stress disorder with marijuana.
Lawmakers last week sent a bill to Christie’s desk that would allow marijuana to be used for PTSD symptoms that are not treatable with conventional therapy. Christie has until later this summer to decide whether to approve the measure to make New Jersey the 18th state to allow medical marijuana to be used to treat PTSD.
Christie declined to comment on his plans at a statehouse news conference this week. He has previously said he wants to ensure the state’s medical marijuana industry is based in science and doesn’t want it to become a back door to legalization for recreational use.
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Jim Miller, president of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey and host of a weekly medical marijuana podcast recorded outside of the statehouse in Trenton, said he’s confident the measure will get Christie’s support.
“There’s a growing excitement thinking there might be a chance,” Miller said. “I am hopeful that the governor will have a couple of veterans come in and witness the signing. That’s just a good photo op for him.”
Marijuana is currently approved in New Jersey to treat multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer and muscular dystrophy, among other medical diseases. It’s also approved for seizures and glaucoma if those conditions resist conventional treatment.
A growing number of states are weighing whether to legalize marijuana to treat PTSD. But many veterans are increasingly using cannabis even though it remains illegal in most states and is unapproved by the Department of Veterans Affairs because major studies have yet to show it is effective against PTSD.
Federal law requires randomized, controlled trials to prove a drug is effective before VA doctors can recommend it. Such studies are underway, including two funded by Colorado, where the state health board held off on legalizing marijuana for PTSD because of the lack of major studies
“That a veteran would say here is how it makes me feel, the argument that you have no proof that what you say is true is a slap in the face to any veteran who honorably served,” said Miller, who is not a veteran himself. “Their collective word in my opinion should be good enough. Let them have it now and then do the tests.”