Gov. Chris Christie
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Wednesday signed a bill clearing the way for sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to obtain treatment through the use of medical cannabis.
Christie — who remains opposed to more widespread uses of marijuana — stipulated that medical cannabis in New Jersey may only be utilized by those for whom other medicines have proven ineffective.
“Requiring conventional medical therapy to be ineffective in treating PTSD before medical marijuana can be prescribed is an appropriate threshold safeguard to deter misuse in the Medical Marijuana Program,” the governor said in the signing statement for the bill.
Christie added that he had directed the Commissioner of the state’s Department of Health to devise clear “objective criteria” for those looking to prescribe and use medical cannabis to treat the effects of PTSD.
Christie stipulated that he’s opposed to the bill being used as a backdoor to the eventual legalization of recreational marijuana. Nevertheless, he made clear that sufferers of PTSD should have access to effective medicine despite the other ways in which the substance may be used.
“he mere potential for abuse by some should not deter the state from taking action that may ease the daily struggles of our veterans and others who legitimately suffer from PTSD,” he said.
The signing of the bill was heralded by several of the bill’s sponsors, who praised its potential to help the state’s vulnerable veterans.
“Veterans – especially post-9/11 veterans – are the group most affected by PTSD,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “The VA has stated that it wants each veteran to find the medication with the least amount of side effects that allows them the optimum level of independence. For many, medical marijuana is the drug that best fits the criteria and the only one to provide veterans with significant relief from the anxiety associated with PTSD.”
Another sponsor of the bill, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), hailed the signing of the bill as “a great day for veterans” and cited an Israeli study showing cannabis’ effectiveness in treating combat-related injuries.
PTSD joins a list of six other medical conditions — including muscular dystrophy, terminal cancer, and multiple sclerosis — that may be legally treated in New Jersey through the use of medical cannabis.
The state’s veterans have been active over the past several months in applying pressure to Christie to sign the bill, with one disabled veteran even testifying before the state Senate’s health committee on the benefits of medical cannabis to veterans looking to treat their PTSD.
New Jersey joins 17 other states in allowing for PTSD to be treatable using medical marijuana. The condition has been found to be prevalent among the nation’s veterans:
The condition has been found to be prevalent among the country’s veterans: According to the RAND Corporation, at least 20 percent of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts suffer from PTSD and depression. Among its symptoms are depression, panic attacks, and thoughts of suicide. The bill signed by Christie is set to take effect immediately.