Press Release  | 11/07/2012

New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Medical Advisory Board Unanimously Recommends to Keep PTSD as a Qualifying Condition

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The Final Decision Rests in the Hands of the Acting Secretary of Health

(Santa Fe, NM) – Today, the New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program’s Medical Advisory Board unanimously recommended to the Acting Secretary of Health to keep PTSD as qualifying condition and to deny Dr. William Ulwelling’s petition to remove PTSD from the list of eligible medical conditions for enrollment in the program. The Secretary of Health will have the final decision.

“We applaud the Medical Advisory Board’s compassionate and evidenced-based recommendation,” said Emily Kaltenbach, the NM State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We urge the Secretary of Health to promptly accept their recommendation.  Patients deserve, above all, the freedom to choose the safest and most effective treatment for their debilitating conditions.”

In defense of keeping PTSD as an eligible condition, the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Patient's Alliance, the Drug Policy Alliance, and others have banded 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 testified in opposition of the petition.

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 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.”

Contact:  Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256

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