Press Release  | 11/06/2012

Medical Cannabis Patients, including Montel Williams, Oppose Petition to Withdraw PTSD as a Qualifying Condition in New Mexico

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New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Medical Advisory Board Will Hear the Petition, Tomorrow, in Santa Fe

Psychiatrists, Military Veterans and Other Patients Scheduled to Testify at the Hearing, Asking the Governor and the Secretary of Health Not to Take Away Their Medicine

(Santa Fe, NM) – Tomorrow, from 1 to 5 pm, the New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program’s Medical Advisory Board will hold a public hearing to consider Dr. William Ulwelling’s petition to remove PTSD from the list of eligible medical conditions for enrollment in the program. The hearing is scheduled in the Harold Runnels Building’s auditorium, 1190 St. Francis Drive in Santa Fe.  The Secretary of Health will have the final decision.

In defense of keeping PTSD as an eligible condition, the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Patient's Alliance, the Drug Policy Alliance, and others are banding together for a campaign they are calling, Don’t Take Away Our Medicine – a Campaign to make sure the voices of patients are heard loud and clear. Members of this campaign, including psychiatrists and PTSD patients are scheduled to testify in opposition of the petition.

Montel Williams, Emmy award-winning talk-show host, decorated former naval intelligence officer, and medical cannabis patient is supporting the Don’t Take Away Our Medicine campaign, declaring his support of the efforts to keep PTSD as a qualifying condition in New Mexico.

“I'm a proud 22-year veteran of the United States Marines Corps and Navy,” said Montel Williams, a sufferer of multiple sclerosis since 1999 who uses medical cannabis to ease his severe neuropathic pain. “I find it egregiously offensive that we can send our children off to die for our freedom, and then so callously turn our backs on their freedom when they return home. Governor Martinez, I urge you to promote New Mexico as a model to the nation and listen to the stories of US military veterans who swear on their honor that it has saved their lives. Please don’t turn your back on our walking wounded.”

Today, more than 3,000 New Mexican residents with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are actively enrolled in our state’s Medical Cannabis Program. Many of them are military veterans, patients living with disabilities, and victims of serious trauma and violent crime.

“When I returned home from Afghanistan I was diagnosed with PTSD. I worked with my doctor and tried many prescription drugs. Taking handfuls of pills every day, every one with a different set of side effects was hard on my body, and I still experienced some symptoms,” said Michael Innis, who served in the General Infantry and  who was awarded a Purple Heart after the convoy he was traveling with got hit by an IED and was then ambushed. “Cannabis was not my first choice of medicine, but I tell you first hand, this medicine works for me. Cannabis allows me to leave my house and has helped me to return to work.”

The Campaign is standing up to protect the legal rights of patients to access safe medicine. They are asking for all compassionate New Mexicans to join them in telling the New Mexico Secretary of Health and the Governor to protect the rights of seriously ill New Mexicans and to reject the request to rescind PTSD as a qualifying condition by signing on to the Campaign: donttakeawaymymedicine.org

The right to use medical cannabis was approved in 2009, when PTSD was added to the list of conditions eligible under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. Since then PTSD has become the disabling condition most frequently indicated by patients in the program, and today accounts for 40% of the diagnoses of the citizens in our state's medial cannabis program.

“The current pharmaceutical cocktails given to sufferers of PTSD have limited efficacy, have significant debilitating side-effects, and have in many cases proven deadly,” stated Lisa Walker, M.D. a board-certified psychiatrist. “Given these facts, along with the experience of thousands of patients whose quality of life has been improved by its use, medical cannabis should continue to be an available treatment for the suffers of PTSD.”

“We will not allow the removal of PTSD as a qualifying condition for the medical cannabis program to happen quietly,” said Emily Kaltenbach, the NM State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Patients deserve, above all, the freedom to choose the safest and most effective treatment for their disabling conditions.”

Contact:  Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256

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