Brain imaging research published this month in the journal Molecular Psychiatry provides physiological evidence as to why cannabis may mitigate certain symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress syndrome is an anxiety disorder that is estimated to impact some eight million Americans annually. Yet, to date, there are no pharmaceutical treatments specifically designed or approved to target symptoms of PTSD.
Investigators at the New York University School of Medicine and the New York University Langone Medical Center, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury reported that subjects diagnosed with PTSD typically possess elevated quantities of endogenous cannabinoid receptors in regions of the brain associated with fear and anxiety. Investigators also determined that many of these subjects experience a decrease in their natural production of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter, resulting in an imbalanced endocannibinoid regulatory system.
Researchers speculated that an increase in the body’s production of cannabinoids would likely restore subjects’ natural brain chemistry and psychological balance. They affirmed, “[Our] findings substantiate, at least in part, emerging evidence that … plant-derived cannabinoids such as marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD.”
They concluded: “The data reported herein are the first of which we are aware of to demonstrate the critical role of CB1 (cannabinoid) receptors and endocannabinoids in the etiology of PTSD in humans. As such, they provide a foundation upon which to develop and validate informative biomarkers of PTSD vulnerability, as well as to guide the rational development of the next generation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD.”
Anecdotal evidence and case study reports have increasingly indicated that cannabis may mitigate traumatic memories and anxiety. However, clinical trial data remains unavailable, in large part because US federal officials have blocked investigators’ efforts to study cannabis in PTSD subjects. In 2011 federal administrators halted efforts by investigators at the University of Arizona to complete an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD.
PTSD is also seldom identified as a qualifying condition in states that allow for the physician authorized use of cannabis therapy. (To date, only New Mexico explicitly cites PTSD as a qualifying condition for cannabis treatment, although a handful of other states, like California, allow doctors the discretion to legally recommend marijuana for post-trauma subjects.) In Oregon, lawmakers in the House are considering Senate-approved legislation, SB 281, that would allow PTSD patients to legally consume cannabis under the state’s nearly 15-year-old medical marijuana program.
Legislation has been introduced in Oregon by the House Committee on Revenue that would legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.
House Bill 3371 would establish a regulatory system, similar to the one in place in the state for alcohol, for the cultivation, production, and sale of cannabis to adults over 21. Adults would be allowed to possess up to 24 ounces of usable marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes, in addition to purchasing it from regulated retail outlets. You can read the full text of the legislation here.
If you needed any further proof that elections have consequences, we now have a total of seven legalization bills pending in state legislatures, whereas we rarely had even one in previous years. The voters in Colorado and Washington set the ball of legalization rolling down hill and it seems unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
If you live in Oregon, please click here to quickly and easily contact your elected officials in support of this legislation. If you don’t live in Oregon, click here and see if there is any pending marijuana law reform legislation in your state.
In November 2012, two states legalized marijuana. Help us win the rest. Consider making a donation to support NORML’s advocacy work today.
I was on a radio show this past weekend debating a prohibitionist who still believes that medical cannabis is little more than a hoax…a ‘camel’s nose under the tent’ to trick the American public into legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes. I’ve heard this individual exclaim numerous times over the years that he would not give cannabis to a loved one who needed it, because, he still clings to the myth that cannabis in its natural form is a ‘dangerous narcotic’…he even claims cannabis is toxic to humans (despite the drug having a lethal dose rating of fifty…the safest indicator measurement of a drug’s lack of toxicity).
Someone who was listening to the show but could not get on the air to address the prohibitionist’s anti-pot prevarications forwarded me an email and link to a recent CNN video of a young boy in Oregon lawfully using medical cannabis for his autism. Now this is not the first time NORML’s seen credible information about how cannabis can help children with autism, to wit:
In 2009 Brown University writing instructor Marie Myung-Ok Lee’s essay on her successfully treating her autistic son J. with cannabis broke this new ground for parents trying to raise children during both the era of cannabis prohibition and the re-discovery of cannabis as a valuable, affordable, safe and non-toxic medicine.
In fact, Marie’s frank and daring essay about children, autism and cannabis has spawned numerous other related articles, TV interviews and videos. Many of them archived by NORML here.
The KMVT video below will be added to this growing archive…it is hard to watch, it made me cry thinking about 1) how truly difficult life must be for Alexander Echols, 2) how enduring and loving his parents are, 3) how ignorant (and at times extreme) prohibitionists are in trying to ban all human interface with the quite wonderful cannabis plant and 4) how blessed we are as humans to know of and have a relationship with this remarkable plant species.
Whether one has an evolutionary or ‘intelligent design’ point of view regarding the origins of life, the relationship between cannabis and humans is an indisputably ancient one, and for many humans today a genuine ‘quality of life’ issue that is not at all served well under a prohibition regime.
Voters in Colorado and Washington on Election Day in favor of ballot measures that remove criminal and civil penalties for the adult possession of cannabis. The votes mark the first time ever that voters have decided at the ballot box to abolish cannabis prohibition.
In Colorado, 55 percent of voters decided in favor of Amendment 64, which allows for the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants by those persons age 21 and over. Longer-term, the measure seeks to establish regulations governing the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retailers. Initial returns show the measure passing with 54 percent support.
In Washington, approximately 55 percent of voters decided in favor of I-502, which regulates the production and sale of limited amounts of marijuana for adults. The measure also removes criminal penalties specific to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use. Initial returns indicate that 55 percent of voters backed the measure.
State lawmakers in Colorado initially prohibited the possession of cannabis in 1917. Washington lawmakers initially outlawed the plant in 1923.
Commenting on the historic votes, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Amendment 64 and Initiative 502 provide adult cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections. Until now, no state law has defined cannabis as a legal commodity. Some state laws do provide for a legal exception that allows for certain qualified patients to possess specific amounts of cannabis as needed. But, until today, no state in modern history has classified cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults.”
Armentano continued: “The passage of these measures strikes significant blow to federal cannabis prohibition. Like alcohol prohibition before it, marijuana prohibition is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police. Alcohol prohibition fell when a sufficient number of states enacted legislation repealing the state’s alcohol prohibition laws. With state police and prosecutors no longer engaging in the federal government’s bidding to enforce an unpopular law, the federal government had little choice but to abandon the policy altogether. Today, history begins to repeat itself.”
Separate marijuana law reform measures proved to be equally popular among voters. In Massachusetts, 63 percent of voters approved Question 3, which eliminates statewide criminal and civil penalties related to the possession and use of up to a 60-day supply of cannabis by qualified patients. It also requires the state to create and regulate up to 35 facilities to produce and dispense cannabis to approved patients. Massachusetts is the 18th state since 1996 to authorize the physician-recommended use of cannabis.
In Michigan, an estimated 65 percent of Detroit voters approved Measure M, which removes criminal penalties pertaining to the possession on private property of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults over age 21.
A statewide ballot measure to legalize the therapeutic use of cannabis in Arkansas appears to have narrowly failed by a vote of 49 percent to 51 percent. In Montana, a referendum that sought to ease legislative restrictions on the state’s medical marijuana law also failed. Oregon’s Measure 80, which sought to allow for the state-licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to adults, garnered only 45 percent of the popular vote.
The ballot measures in Colorado and Washington will take effect once the vote totals have been formally ratified, a process that typically takes up to 30 days.
NORML will provide additional updates on various other local measures throughout the day. Stay tuned to the NORML blog for more information.
Despite trailing in the polls for most of the previous months, Oregon advocates and reformers were able to close the support gap for their marijuana legalization initiative to a respectable 45% in favor and 55% opposed (with 55% of the vote counted). Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to push Measure 80 over the top.
What this effort did, however, was elevate the discourse in regards to marijuana legalization in Oregon and set the stage for future efforts. We would like to thank all of those who dedicated countless hours into supporting this reform effort in Oregon and will be following up in regards to the future of marijuana law reform in the state.