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State board says PTSD patients should be able to use medical marijuana

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A state board says OK to medical marijuana for PTSD, but rejects it for bipolar disorder and insomnia.

Dakota Serna served in the Marines during the Iraq War. He says memories of seeing friends and children killed left him suicidal after he came home. Serna says the only thing that has helped him get his life back on track is using marijuana.  

But that puts him on the wrong side of the law as it is currently written.

“Somebody on paper can say that I’m a criminal,” said Serna. “Somebody can come to my house and try to put me in handcuffs. But I’m not a criminal.”

A state board on Thursday agreed that people like Serna should be able to legally use marijuana to treat their PTSD.

“The people who are veterans, the people who have been raped, sexual crimes, deserve this to be passed,” said panel member David Brogren. “I think that it’s time, it’s just time.”

But the board also voted against adding bipolar disorder and insomnia to the list of acceptable conditions under Michigan’s medical marijuana law.

“The weight of the evidence in the consideration of the committee was that there was substantial concern that use of marijuana by a person with bipolar disorder could potentially make their condition worse,” said panel chair Matthew Davis, who is also the state’s chief medical executive.

Davis says insomnia is often caused by other conditions that are already covered under Michigan’s medical marijuana law.

The board’s recommendations on PTSD, insomnia, and bipolar disorder now go to Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Director Steve Arwood for final approval.

This is the second time a medical marijuana review board has approved PTSD for medical marijuana use. A previous panel’s vote was thrown out after that board was disbanded for lacking proper representation from the medical community.

It seems the board still faces many other concerns about how it operates. The state requires at least six members of the panel to vote ‘yes’ for any condition to be approved. But a number of members have not been attending meetings. There were eight members present during Thursday’s votes, meaning all but two members had to vote in favor of a condition for it to be approved.

One member commented during the meeting that the “deck is stacked” against adding any conditions to the state’s medical marijuana program.

When another member asked whether the board was operating under a “broken system,” LARA Bureau of Health Care Services Director Carole Engle said, “It is what it is.”

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