ptsd and medical marijuana

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs following a traumatic event where there is a threat of injury or death to you or someone else. PTSD generally develops either immediately following or sometimes months after, a person experiences an event that causes intense fear, helplessness or horror.  These events can range from natural disasters, fires, floods, earthquakes, or a tragic death. It also occurs with violent acts such as murder, combat or acts of terrorism.

Anyone can develop this condition, even children. The length of the illness generally depends on how quickly it manifests in each individual. PTSD can last for as little as 3 months or a lifetime.

The symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Repeated reliving of the event
  • Recurring memories, dreams and flashbacks
  • Insomnia
  • Bodily reactions to situations that remind the person of the event
  • Staying away from people, places and things that remind of the event
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating

Treating PTSD

Traditional treatment is generally a combination of psychotherapy and psychiatric drugs. Medical Marijuana has also proved to be effective. A patient needs about 2-3 grams a day to find relief for most, if not all of their symptoms.

PTSD patients respond to psychotherapy more effectively when they are not combatting side effects like nausea, headaches, dizziness and thoughts of suicide. Unfortunately, the research and approvals for Medical Marijuana have been stalled due to its classification as a Schedule I narcotic and the resistance of large  pharmaceutical companies (Big Pharma) and their lobbyist. Billions of dollars are being spent on the treatment of this disease. The majority of these costs are on the medications.

Zoloft and Paxil have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of PTSD. Although the drugs are used for other illnesses, the profits to their respective companies were approximately 3-5 billion dollars per year. Seroquel, an antipsychotic, is currently being used when patients are not responding to the anti-depressants. The sleep aid Ambien is prescribed in conjunction with these drugs to combat sleep problems. The makers of these drugs also have seen profits in the 3-5 billion dollar range annually. This is why they do not want medical marijuana  approved. Profits will be lost.

Let’s looks at the math:

A patient using 2 to 3 grams of medical marijuana daily vs a cocktail of Zoloft and Ambien, or Seroquel and Ambien, will spend $200-400 per month for medicinal marijuana depending on the strain of medicine used. On the contrary, Big Pharma products cost roughly $765 per month and have numerous side effects which may require additional medications and more money being spent with Big Pharma.

Insurance companies and the Veterans Administration (taxpayers) cover the cost for many patients prescriptions. Medical marijuana is not covered for this condition so it’s not prescribed by most mainstream medical professionals and is federally illegal for the VA to recommend to veterans. When it is legal to prescribe, many states with limited medical marijuana laws do not list PTSD as an approved condition for treatment such as cancer, HIV or AIDS.

Greed Wins

There is no logical reason other than greed for medical marijuana not to be approved for PTSD,especially when treating children and young people under 24. One of the known side effects of anti-depressant drugs in young people is suicidal thoughts. Consider the large number of veterans coming home with PTSD, many in their late teens and early 20’s. Wouldn’t we rather have them treated with a natural medication, with no side effects to speak of, versus a drug that may make them kill themselves?  And with drugs the taxpayer is paying for?

Pharmaceutical companies know the benefits of medical marijuana and are calculating the losses to their bottom lines if the Veterans Administration starts to use Medical marijuana as an alternate treatment.

Big Pharma is also worried about if health insurance companies start covering medical marijuana. If so, they won’t be able to reap those profits as well. Billions of dollars are on the line. Even if the pharmaceutical companies begin to produce their own brands of medical marijuana, they will have a challenge convincing the public that a medication they have claimed for years is ineffective, now works.

Finally, pharmaceutical companies are not in the business of curing diseases such as PTSD.  Their focus is on symptom management and creating drugs that a person needs to take for life. Why? Billions in profits.
PTSD should be considered a qualifying condition in every legal medical marijuana state. And, the VA should allow our veterans the choice of a safer, healthier alternative to deadly pharmaceuticals. Too many lives are lost to combat. When our vets get home, they should not have to fight again for their freedoms. Big pharma should not be allowed to dictate what medications our tax dollars pay for.

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